Dance Company Celebrating Mexican Culture is a Company in Residence at SMC
By SMC Public Information Office
This year, Santa Monica College’s Dance Department is hosting Los Angeles-based Ballet Folklorico Flor de Mayo (BFFM) as the company in residence (under the artistic direction of SMC alum and dance instructor Raquel Ramirez).
BFFM’s goal is “to educate the world about the richness of Mexican culture through dance and music.” BFFM is the only dance company in Southern California to host their own world dance festival, “World Itotia Festival,” has traveled internationally to various festivals around the globe, has started a youth academy, “Academia de Danza BFFM” to train the next generation of dancers, and won prestigious awards including the 12th International Competition and Festival of Folklore, Dance and Music Les Etoiles De Paris 2018 Grand Prix Award, and 21st Beijing International Tourism Festival (BITF) Best Choreography and Dance Ensemble Award 2019.
The company is currently rehearsing its choreography on a weekly basis with SMC students for an upcoming end-of-semester performance of the college’s world dance ensemble, Global Motion. As part of their residency, BFFM is providing student dancers the opportunity to take a company class, observe them in their creative process, and train with company members through master classes & workshops.
“Our statement is ‘Compartiendo La Belleza de Nuestra Cultura,’ which translates to ‘Sharing the Beauty of our Culture,’” said Raquel Ramirez. “What better way than by teaching the next generations? This is how we keep the traditions alive and continue to share and exchange that with the world.”
SMC film major Alan Gurrola has also been studying dance for two semesters now, and this will be his second time performing with Global Motion. He has a personal reason for loving the experience of dancing with BFFM: “My folklórico maestra is one of Professor Ramirez’s students—she was also in BFFM. It is an honor to dance alongside the group my maestra was in . . . BFFM completely welcomed me as a dancer and allowed me to expand my dance repertoire. They are very professional, kind dancers dedicated to the art form of Mexican dance. The environment of the BFFM practice is infectious and makes me want to dance more and learn more!”
Sophia Aponte started at SMC as an art major last fall but decided to switch to her main passion, dance. “Working alongside BFFM has been very meaningful to me since I come from a Hispanic background but never had the opportunity to explore the cultural dances more,” Aponte said. “So, getting the chance to learn how to dance folklórico with such a welcoming group of dancers has been such a fun experience! It has also helped me with my focus to detail and staying grounded as I’m dancing.”
SMC Dance Department Chair Mark Tomasic pointed out that the company-in-residence program “provides an opportunity for our students to work with professional dancers and choreographers in the creative process. It provides invaluable networking opportunities and offers our dance majors a taste of the world they want to enter after graduation.”
SMC offers a comprehensive Associate’s Degree in Dance that prepares students for BFA and BA transfer and dance-related careers while serving the general student population through a breadth of dance experiences. This fall semester, the department unveils its Commercial Dance Certificate of Achievement, designed for students seeking employment in the diverse commercial dance industry.
Dance Department outreach programming also includes the instruction of all fourth and fifth graders in the SMMUSD in World Dance and Jazz/Musical theater dance, as well as teaching creative dance to second graders at SMASH Elementary.
The Dance Department is dedicated to nurturing versatile dance artists through a combination of rigorous technical training in contemporary modern, ballet, commercial, and world dance forms with performance opportunities, theoretical study, and creative exploration. SMC’s dance program is considered a unique gem in two-year training programs. It is housed in the Core Performance Center, a state-of-the-art facility with four spacious sunlit studios dedicated to the Dance Department.
The dance program also features a relationship with the Eli and Edythe BroadStage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, where SMC students perform in four full-length dance performances per year and have the opportunity to study with BroadStage guest artists. See smc.edu/dance for more information.
Santa Monica College is a California Community College accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).