Ballet Folklorico de Chicago brings traditional art form to city's North Side

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Much of Chicago's Mexican heritage can be seen on the South and West sides. But an Old Irving Park mom has made it her mission to bring an important piece of Mexican culture to the North Side with dance organization Ballet Folklorico de Chicago.

"So we looked around and didn't really see anything on the North Side, and as a lifelong resident of Chicago in the Hermosa neighborhood, all the North Side neighborhoods where my parents lived throughout our childhood I know that Mexicans didn't just exist on the South Side," said Ofelia Guerra, owner of Ballet Folklorico de Chicago.

Guerra said it started as looking for something more convenient for her daughters and turned into a way to fill a void in the community. Families from around the North Side of the city and surrounding suburbs are showing up to share the tradition as a family.

"It warms my heart so much to not only see people come locally within a five mile radius but we have families from Westchester, we have families from Skokie and we have families that came in from Gurnee," she said.

Joann Floers-Deter, one of the dancers in the group, lives in north suburban Evanston.

"Neither of us dance. I was actually looking for something culturally relevant for him to do over the summer and I found out that there were adult classes and they were on the same day. So I was like, 'this is great! I'll do it as well,'" she said.

Lead instructor Miriam Gomez was trained in Mexico and says there are just a few simple things you need to do to catch on.

"Más que nada, la primer regla es amar a México," ella dijo. "Ese es lo principal, amar nuestra cultura y de ir más, poco a poco es las tecnicas."

More than anything, the first rule is to love Mexico," she said. "That's principal, love our culture and from there, little by little it's technique.

As for the kids they are learning to have a little fun and to love where they come from.

"My favorite part is the costumes and also here the boots because you can make stomping noises," said Marlowe Flores-Deter, a young dancer in the group.

The group has several upcoming performances in the area:

-Sunday, Oct. 6: Logan Square Mercadito (Woodward Plaza) - 1 p.m.
-Friday, Oct. 11: Halloween/Día de Los Muertos presentation in the 45th Ward (Six Corners) - noon
-Saturday, Feb. 29: Ballet Folklorico de Chicago anniversary celebration - details TBA

Learn more about Ballet Folklorico de Chicago on their website.
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