Denver’s Cinco de Mayo festival is here! The celebration of the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 is May 6 and 7 at Denver Civic Center Park. This year, the festival’s Local Stage is being produced by Lisa Trujillo who runs Lisa Trujillo Dance Folklorico, which will be performing on both days.
“Colorado is one of the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebrations and it’s a fantastic opportunity for my students to get out and perform. I do it mostly for my students and to incorporate my culture and keep it alive,” Lisa said.
Folklorico dance is known as the dance of the people and represents the traditional dances of different regions and states within Mexico.
“Every different state has its own culture. The Chiapas have their own Chiapanecas costumes and they have their own instruments which are the marimbas. Jalisco is the Mariachis with the Mariachi suits and the rancheras for the girls. Nayarit has its own music and Veracruz has the harps with the white lace costumes. Each region has its own costumes and its own style of arms and movement of the skirts,” Lisa explained.
Folklorico is most known for its bright and colorful apparel where people can either wear skirts—perfectly designed to twirl and fan—or embroidered jackets and hats while tapping their feet to the beat of Folklorico music.
“There are so many more Mexican groups now, it’s more alive now than it has ever been and there’s room for all of us which is wonderful!” Lisa said.
Folklorico was always in sight for Lisa ever since she saw a group of dancers in Mexico City when she was seven years old. She later went back to Mexico City to study the dance. Since then, she has incorporated it into her dance academy and company and has included a variety of styles of Folklorico dancing in her students’ performances.
“To be a Folklorico dancer means to be yourself. When you’re on stage performing or in the rehearsals, I feel like you become yourself,” said 21-year-old Shenae Trujillo, Lisa’s daughter. She has been dancing since she was two years old at her mother’s studio. This year, Shenae has flown in from California to dance with her mother’s company at the festival.
“It’s fun and you just want to party to it,” said Shenae. “A lot of people love dancing to Mariachi music and it just brings people together.”
To Lisa, Folklorico dancing brings out your personality and culture through music and costumes and it creates a magical experience.
“The music gives a lot of inspiration and a lot of energy,” Lisa said. “You hear a lot of times with Mariachi music the ‘El Grito’. It makes you want to yell and it gets in your soul. It’s exciting.”
Lisa’s dancers began rehearsing for the festival in January. Learning Folklorico routines and ordering costumes, hair pieces, and shoes are all a part of the busy preparation for the festival. Lisa attempts to create a blend of different Folklorico styles to keep the audience engaged.
“I’ll do two or three dances from Veracruz, two or three from Nayarit so that they can see and hear the differences between the regions of Mexico,” Lisa said.
Lisa provided Bucket List Community Cafe a sneak peek into what audiences should expect at their set this year.
“My little guys are doing the Mexican hat dance to “Jarabe Tapatio” and they are just darling! You’ll see the progression from the kids doing “Jarabe Tapatio” and “Jarabe Mixteco” with the little bull and the flowers and then the progression into my company. The company is doing a really cool Jalisco set this year,” Lisa revealed.
Lisa hopes that the audience enjoys the beautiful costumes, music, expression, and presentation of Mexico through their Folklorico dancing.
“Once you do Mexican dance it’s a different style and it stays in your soul and you continue it because it’s a part of your culture,” Lisa said.