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Ballet Folklorico ends busy year, plans active 2020

By La Prensa Staff

For the fourth straight year, El Corazón de México Ballet Folklorico dance troupe ended the year in a traditional way—with a public performance at the Toledo Museum of Art. That “Great Art Escape” show proved to be a great way to end 2019 for the group, which started with the sunny excitement of Florida for a performance at the Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs.

"It has become a holiday tradition," said Elaina Hernández, El Corazón director. "In fact, when I applied to go to Disney, I actually scheduled it around that we would perform at the Peristyle."

Ms. Hernández had set a goal to “slow down in 2019,” but that notion quickly disappeared as the number of requested appearances and performances began to mount. Community groups sought out the colorful pageantry and culture of the dance troupe, as its notoriety continues to grow.

"We were really, really busy. What was nice, though, is we really did a lot of fundraising," she said. "We really didn't have to worry about trying to raise money, which was really, really nice."

"The community has been really great to us. They have been super supportive in everything we do. They come to our performances and they come to our fundraisers and we couldn't do a lot of things without the community. They believe in what we're doing, which is really, really nice."

That even goes for what have become staple events for El Corazón de México Ballet Folklorico, including Grito Fest in September and the "Thank You for Believing" benefit dinner held each April. Both events were packed by both the Latino community and general population.

"It was bigger than last year, so we want to do it again in 2020, said Ms. Hernández of the festival. The benefit dinner already is scheduled to be held the first Saturday in April, 2020.

But those are the only 2020 events Ms. Hernández would reveal. Details of some other "big announcements" are being finalized and will come shortly.

The biggest accomplishment of 2019 may be the same as it is every other year for the dance troupe—the sharing of the Latino culture, both within the group and within the community.

"I don't think I have any dancers right now who are from México," said Ms. Hernández. "Everybody is (at least) first generation. Now we're getting into kids who are third and fourth generation Mexican-American. So, what's nice is they can share their experiences together."

While some of those dancers don't have the usual cultural traditions in their families anymore, they're learning them through the dance troupe and they can share that learned experience with their friends and fellow dancers. That also helps to dispel media-created myths and other misconceptions about the Mexican immigrant population and their cultural heritage.

"It's nice going into the schools, telling them what we do and the kids don't see any of our dancers look like what you would think a traditional Mexican looks like, because people from Mexico all look different, too," explained Ms. Hernández. "It's not like you're going to have everybody look the same down there. That way they feel comfortable with it."

Even questions from the students can be a learning opportunity—or at least good for a laugh. One student even asked what the dance troupe eats. He was surprised to learn their favorite food was pizza—just like him.

"Every time we go to a school they actually think we're from México," said Ms. Hernández with a laugh. "We have to tell them we're from Toledo. Then their kids understand our kids and our kids understand their kids. Just try to break up stereotypes and get comfortable with each other."

Editor's Note: Photos taken on Dec. 27, 2019 at TMA's Peristyle. In first photo, Elaina Hernandez shown with her father Ray Soto and dancers.



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2019 Merit Award Winners

2019 Merit Award Winners!

Albums2019 Merit Award Winners!

4 Photos · Updated 25 days ago

Congratulations to the 2019 Merit Award winners! Elaina Hernandez, El Corazon de Mexico, Performing Arts- Dance ($2500 Award) Carly Riegger- Visual Art, Ceramics ($1000 Award) Loraine Lynn- Visual Art, Multidisciplinary ($1000 Award) James Dickerson- Visual Art, Photography ($500 Award) This program recognizes outstanding individual local literary, performing and visual artists, selected by a panel of regional artists and cultural leaders. 2019 panelists included Jennifer Harge (Detroit)- a nationally recognized movement artist and founder of Harge Dance Stories; Dave Lucas (Cleveland)- Ohio’s current Poet Laureate and Case Western Reserve University faculty; and Sarah Rose Sharp (Detroit)- artist, activist, and writer for national publications including Hyperallergic and Art in America. Thank you to our panel for their time and input! We'd also like to thank our sponsors and partners for making this program possible: ProMedica , Ohio Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.