Trailblazing LGBTQ+ Bay Area traditional Mexican dance group celebrates roots and representation

Lauren Martinez Image
Friday, September 15, 2023
LGBTQ+ Bay Area Mexican dance group celebrates roots, representation
Members of Ensamble Folclórico Colibrí, San Jose's first LGBTQ+ traditional Mexican Folclorico dance group, are expressing more than just their roots.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Folklorico is a traditional form of Mexican dance and members from one Bay Area-based group are expressing more than just their roots.

Ensamble Folclórico Colibrí is San Jose's first LGBTQ+ folclorico dance group.

Arturo Magaña co-founded the group in 2015.

"With a lot of respect to our traditions, to our cultura, we always say we're not here to change the traditions, we're not here to change the story, we're just here to add our story," Magaña said.

On the fifth floor of San Jose State's Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Library, an exhibit displays photos, costumes and history of the group.

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SJSU Research and Social Sciences Librarian Essy Barroso-Ramirez curated the exhibit.

She started taking classes with the group in January.

"I really enjoy being in that environment. It's an incredibly nurturing and welcoming environment," Barroso-Ramirezs said.

Historically the dance is very gender-based but EFC doesn't limit members to dance in costumes based on gender.

"It was like incredibly touching for me because I just saw it as so beautiful and empowering. And that's what makes them so innovative and amazing," Barroso-Ramirezs said.

Dancers say they get to represent who they are entirely.

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One Latino said a performance in 2022 was significant to him because he was able to have a "Queer-ceñera" on stage, his version of the Quinceañera sweet 15th birthday celebration.

EFC inspired dance groups to form in Mexico.

"I had the opportunity of going to Guadalajara to work with one of them and it was just so amazing to think like- we're so far apart from Mexico and yet we're being the trailblazers so that other people feel comfortable in doing what we do," Magaña said.

The exhibit is called 'Dance with Pride.'

Magaña said it's an honor to have the group's work on display.

The exhibit runs until September 24th and is open to the public during the library's hours. For more information click here.

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