Sam Carbajal

Mexican dancer
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Sam Carbajal with dancersSam Carbajal with Jose Luis Avalos founded the Marshalltown Hispanic Folk Dance Group. This group of teens and adults performs regional Mexican folk dances at events throughout Iowa.

Dancers perform in colorful costumes that represent the dances from the Michocan, Jalisco, Polka Nortena, Jarocho, Guerrero (Acateca) and Poblano regions of Mexico. Carbajal, who was born in Mexico and lived in Los Angeles before coming to Iowa to work for Judicial Services in Marshallton, studied folklorico dancing as a young adult in Mexico.

Today, folklorico dance groups exist all over Mexico, throughout the United States, and now in Iowa. These traditional dance groups are often led by university-trained dancers who learn to perform the various dances from each state of Mexico.

Mexico’s traditional dances are regional and often local and have been influenced by European colonial (Spanish, German, and French) as well as indigenous customs, evident in the costumes, steps, music, and themes or stories. In the United States, Mexican Americans often form folklorico groups to pass their cultural traditions on to their children. Mothers make the costumes, teachers generally teach for free, and community members support the groups by attending performances.

The Marshalltown Hispanic Folk Dance Group was featured at the 2001 Festival of Iowa Folklife.

Contact: Sam Carbajal, 641.752.2300,