Local Bolivian folk dance group Ballet Folklorico Bolivia strives to share Bolivian culture with Utah and other parts of the United States, while also bringing fellow Bolivians together and creating a sense of community through dance and music.
“Ballet Folklorico Bolivia gives an opportunity for everyone to enjoy the culture and to spread love through dance,” said BYU alumna and dancer Angie Ayaviri McGraw.
Emmanuel Taboada, a Bolivian student studying English at Internexus Provo, created this group after seeing that no one in Utah had started a Bolivian cultural dance group.
When Taboada came to Utah to learn English, he missed dancing and doing the things he had done at home in Bolivia. He realized he could create a group for Bolivian dancing to help share the rich culture.
“It makes my life happier, and one of our goals is to share our culture with other people,” Taboada said. Ballet Folklorico Bolivia currently has 17 members.
The group was able to go on stage for the first time in West Jordan on March 19, performing several Bolivian dances including Tinkus and Caporales.
Tinkus and Caporales are two of the many traditional Bolivian dancing styles, which include the wearing of certain traditional Bolivian outfits.
McGraw said she saw her father shed tears of happiness as he watched the group perform onstage for the first time.
“I think that the dances are not only for people that are from the U.S. but also for the people from Bolivia. A lot of us have been living here for a long time, so listening to all the music and watching Bolivia being represented makes everyone happy,” she said.
Members of Ballet Folklorico Bolivia said it has become more than just a dancing group; it’s a way for them to connect back with their roots and show their love for their country.
“It’s hard to be away from home. We or our families have made a sacrifice to come to America to have a better life, and even though we are here, we still love our country, and we’re really proud of our roots and we’re from,” McGraw said.
Another member of the group and mother of four children Melisa Pozo Martineau said being in the group has also helped her to get closer to her sisters. “My other two sisters are also in the group, it’s been fun to spend time with them, and also with the other amazing people in the group too.”
Out of the 17 members of the group, one person is from the U.S. and another person is from Peru. The group is currently looking for at least 3 more people to join, and anyone is welcome.
“We want anyone who wants to dance to come join us and feel comfortable with us,” Taboada said.
Information on joining the group or learning more about Ballet Folklorico Bolivia can be found on their Facebook page.