ARVIN, Calif. (KGET) – It’s halftime during Arvin High School’s homecoming game. The football field turns into a sacred, cultural space.
Honoring the tradition of folklorico: Arvin High alumni who once beat their heels to the sounds of mariachi.
Teacher Brenda Ruiz, who graduated from Arvin High in 2012, once danced her way through the halls where she teaches now. Her love of culture and longing for her motherland is evident in her teachings.
“Folklorico played an important role in my life,” Ruiz said. “I came from Mexico, I was born in Mexico, so I want to be able to share the little bit that I know with students.”
Ruiz is ensuring that her students practice their culture year-round with a course that has been 6 years in the making. For years she’s taught her students, the intricate art form of ballet folkloric.
“A lot of students grow up and they don’t know,” Ruiz said. “Some of them grow up not learning Spanish.
Every day when the clock strikes 3:30 p.m., Ruiz connects to her motherland and transports her students with her. Teaching them choreography that requires true grit, dedication and heart.
“It’s very difficult, there is a lot that goes into it, the steps, the technique, the skirt work for the females,” Ruiz said. “The choreography, all the formations, it’s a workout a lot of people don’t realize it until they try it.”
It’s more than just teaching the steps to ‘El Son de La Negra’, a popular selection among Folklorico groups. It’s about helping her students connect to their roots, in a country where those cultural roots don’t flourish.
“Taking pride in being Mexicana,” Ruiz said. “Taking pride in knowing my background, my roots that is why I love doing it.”
It’s also about ensuring the next generation of students flourish to their full academic, personal and cultural potential.
“I hope one day my students will pass it on to others,” said Ruiz. “It’s important for us to know where our roots come from.”
Reporter Christian Galeno would like to extend special thanks to the Arvin High School Video Production for their help with this story.