LGBTQ folklore dance troupe celebrates Pride through performance

A Mexican folklore dance troupe based in San Jose says its mission is to promote Pride through performance. The group started nearly a decade ago and wants to continue creating a space in the world of dance.  

The group’s artistic director says he started this troupe so that he and others could be themselves. Now he’s teaching people how to show pride through dance in the Latino community.

Folclorico, a traditional Mexican folk dance, intertwines ballet with Indigenous, African, and European elements. Under founder and artistic director Arturo Magana, Ensamble Folclorico Colibri (EFC) has vowed to use dance to inspire and educate while representing the LGBTQ+ community.

"The next chapter for us is to continue telling stories specific to the community. Stories that are not always about happy endings but a lesbian wedding that perhaps is not accepted, a gay coming out story, a story about violence that’s perpetrated on our trans community as well," said Magana. 

Magana founded EFC in 2015 and since then, the troupe has performed across the Bay Area and in Mexico. They perform during Pride Month, Dia De Muertos, Hispanic Heritage Month and San Jose’s Christmas in the Park. Shantain Vargas says she joined the troupe a year ago.

"I came out later in life and I struggled. I grew up in the era of Matthew Shepard. So, coming out was a really hard time for me. Being at Colibri, I’m like that’s where my heart is and that’s why I joined because I wanted to be an inspiration to others," said Vargas. 

Magana says membership is open to anyone, no matter their identity, and dancers of all skill levels are welcome. Rehearsals are held at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in East San Jose and dancers perform in traditional costumes with a twist.

"We implement the colors of the rainbow and it’s so important for us to represent a rainbow because it brings in every color and every aspect of every single one of the dancers," said Magana. 

Magana says, although the group has faced some negativity from those who don’t approve of their mission, the feedback from many in the community makes it all worth it.  

"They come to us, and they even tell us we’re not out of the closet, but thank you for what you’re doing and that makes me feel like wow. Empowering," said Vargas. 

EFC is currently practicing for two upcoming performances in Oakland and Hollister this weekend. 


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