St. Edward's University Ballet Folklorico Travels to Holy Cross Schools
Imagine two vans filled with students, staff, alumni, luggage, costumes and props going on a cross-country, 3,200 mile trek from Austin to Wilkes-Barre, Penn. This is exactly the journey the St. Edward’s University Ballet Folklorico group participated in during our spring break.
One of the group’s main goals is to share the richness of the Mexican culture through the traditional dances of ballet folklorico. Throughout the year, the group does this by performing on campus, in the local Austin community and other cities in Texas. Once a year, the group takes this mission of cultural dissemination a bit further by venturing into parts of the United States that don’t often see the beauty and majesty of ballet folklorico.
This year, the group was invited to return to King’s College, a Holy Cross school, located in Wilkes-Barre, Penn. Hosted by Brother George Schmitz and Isabel Balsamo, project directors of the McGowan Hispanic Outreach Program, and Delight Yokely, director of the Office of College Diversity, the St. Edward’s University Ballet Folklorico was given the red carpet treatment. During our stay on campus, the group conducted a ballet folklorico workshop open to both King’s College students and dance groups from the surrounding area. We had two performances during our stay — one for students from local middle and high schools, and a second one open to both the King’s College and local communities. King’s College is similar to St. Edward’s in size and atmosphere. Everyone we met — from students to staff and faculty — made us feel at home. By the time we left campus for the next leg of our journey, we truly understood what makes all Holy Cross schools so special.
The next stop on our journey was Washington, D.C. The drive from Wilkes-Barre to D.C. was only four hours — much more manageable than the 28 hours it took to get to Pennsylvania. We departed King’s College at 3 a.m. in order to make a 9 a.m. scheduled tour of the White House. The traffic became gridlocked once we reached the Baltimore area, and we began to panic that we would not make our tour time. Despite our late arrival, our group was able to tour the White House. To walk the halls of the White House was definitely a major highlight of the trip.
Our next performance was hosted by the St. Edward’s D.C. Alumni Chapter. St. Edward’s and College Assistance Migrant Program alumnus, Jeremias Alvarez coordinated an afternoon show and reception for our group. This time, we found ourselves on Capitol Hill in the Rayburn House Building. Getting through security was interesting considering everything — costumes and props — had to be examined by the building’s guards. Dancing for our fellow St. Edward’s family made all the security stops worth dealing with. After our performance, the group had an opportunity to talk with our D.C. alumni and share St. Edward’s stories.
The group now found itself with one final performance stop — Bishop McNamara High School located in Forestville, Md. We were invited to perform for the students by their principal, Marco Clark, who saw the group perform at last year’s Holy Cross Institute Convocation held on the St. Edward’s campus. We were excited to be performing at a Holy Cross high school and couldn’t wait to meet the students and staff.
Our schedule had us spending the entire day at Bishop McNamara visiting classrooms, holding a dance workshop, eating lunch with students and performing twice. Our afternoon performance was for the students of Bishop McNamara and our evening performance was open to the public. Yet again, we experienced the Holy Cross mission in action. The reception we received from the student body, staff and faculty was one of open arms. At the end of the day we were sad to leave.
With only one day left on our trip, the group found itself exploring the Smithsonian Museums, monuments, local sights and sounds of D.C. The next day, we hit the road and headed home. Now, we’re back in Austin with everlasting memories of our Spring Break 2010 journey. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year! Be sure to take a look at photos from our trip!
Staff Advisor for St. Edward’s University Ballet Folklorico