A Pedacito Of Mexico Lindo Orlando, A Dance Troupe Sharing Mexican Culture Through Traditional Dance
Dance is a beautiful outward expression of culture that combines several individual cultural elements to form a dynamic storytelling experience. It taps into our senses and reaches our hearts through the use of music, fabrics, colors, motion, and emotion. In the same way that we preserve and share stories, recipes, language, and artifacts, it is important that we preserve and share expressions of culture like traditional dance.
Mexico Lindo-Orlando is a Mexican Folkloric dance ensemble in Orlando, Florida founded in 2014 by Gizela Maldonado. The dance troupe seeks to enrich the cultural community by spreading the appreciation of Mexico's unique folk dancing heritage, while learning the proper technique of this unique dance style.
A Brief Overview Of Mexican Folk Dancing
Baile folklorico, or Mexican folk dancing, is a term used to describe the unique dance styles across the many regions of Mexico. These traditional dances combine storytelling with unique clothing, music, and choreography representative of a particular region’s culture. The history of Mexican folkloric dance tells the story of the country’s rich history and is a synthesis of indigenous, European, and African cultural influences.
Jarabe Tapatio, known colloquially as the Mexican Hat Dance, is the national dance of Mexico. First performed in the Jalisco region, male dancers wear charro suits and female dancers wear a china poblana dress. Other regions have their own style of dance, dress, and music.
Chiapas has Marimba, a cheerful mix of indigenous and Spanish roots. Sonora has the dance of the deer, which is said to capture the spirit of the forest. Veracruz uses zapateados (footwork) reminiscent of flamenco dance, sharing the story of the Spanish, African, and Caribbean influence on the region’s history.
More about Gizela Maldonado and Mexico Lindo Folkloric Ballet, Orlando
Gizela Maldonado was born in Mexico City and studied Mexican folklore throughout elementary and middle school. Once in university, she continued pursuing her passion by taking dance classes. She arrived in Central Florida 22 years ago and discovered that there was a need to further the representation of regional, traditional Mexican culture. In 2014, Maldonado officially founded Mexico Lindo Folkloric Ballet to share the love of dance and Mexican culture.
Maldonado’s dance troupe, Mexico Lindo, travels around Central Florida performing up to 15 styles of regional Mexican folk dance. There are currently about 12 members in the troupe ranging in age with the youngest being just eight years old. About 50% of the troupe is made up of individuals of Mexican descent.
Members are students who continuously learn and practice the traditional regional dance routines and also performers who are called upon for a range of events, including Quinceneras, weddings, Cinco de Mayo, and government and corporate functions. They also showcase their cultural dance at festivals such as FusionFest, a free 2-day cultural festival in Downtown Orlando that brings together, celebrates, and shares the diversity of Central Florida with the community.
Mexico Lindo uses Casa Culture, located within the Fashion Square Mall, as their physical meeting place for learning and practicing. Casa Culture is an arts equity and entrepreneurship project started by Samí Haiman-Marrero that serves as a space to support underrepresented groups of artists, creators, and entrepreneurs. The troupe meets twice per week to perfect their craft and ensure that their dance routines authentically honor the region they represent.
This, of course, comes with its challenges. Each of the dances has an associated costume, which is unique from others, and they can be very expensive. The dresses are almost always handmade in Mexico to ensure their authenticity. Members are responsible for purchasing their own costumes which makes fundraising and community support an important aspect of the work Mexico Lindo does. There are also critics who point out when the costume doesn’t exactly match the dance.
However, Gizela Maldonado does not let these obstacles distract her from being a teacher, mentor, dancer, and a Mexican culture advocate. Maldonado says that she is motivated by her love of folk dance and her troupe’s ability to “make it look easy.” She has a strong sense of pride for this artform and feels a sense of duty to share it with others.
Troupe members also share the love and passion for Mexican folk dancing. Trisha Barrientos, a student and member of Mexico Lindo, joined the group when she moved to Orlando seven years ago. Like many second generation Mexican Americans, Barrientos didn’t grow up surrounded by Mexican culture. Being part of Mexico Lindo has allowed her to learn and embrace her roots while doing what she loves - dance. Being part of the troupe has helped her achieve a sense of pride and has shaped the way she looks at and experiences Mexican culture.
Connect, Follow, And Support Mexico Lindo Folkloric Ballet, Orlando
Mexico Lindo Folkloric Ballet is a passion project for Gizela Maldonado that aims to share Mexico’s regional folk dance styles authentically. Its members rely on the financial support of the community to continue to share and preserve this important expression of Mexican culture. Mexico Lindo is available for events of all sizes and is sure to transport you throughout Mexico through their beautiful costumes, their authentic choreography, and the passion they bring with them to each performance.
Learn More About FusionFest
This story is brought to you by FusionFest, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the mission to celebrate the people and the many different cultures that make Central Florida awesome by showcasing talents, sharing stories, driving innovation and building community based on respect and understanding.