Arnulfo Camarillo

Ballet folklorico
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Arnulfo Camarillo with studentsThe Quad Cities Ballet Folklorico, directed by Master Artist Arnulfo Camarillo, has been in existence for over 20 years. Camarillo studied folkloric dancing at the Universidad de Guadalajara in Jalisco, Mexico and also performed in a dance group there. When he came to the United States, he wanted to continue this tradition for his daughter and for his community. Arnulfo does not charge for lessons, and he and his family, as well as the dancers’ families support the cost of handmade costumes, props, and specially tailored outfits imported from Mexico for the male dancers. The Quad Cities Ballet Folklorico has performed all over Iowa and Illinois as well as across the United States.

Mexican Folklorico dance groups exist all over Mexico and throughout the United States. These traditional dance groups are often 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 and often having fundraisers.

For recent immigrants, seeing the traditional dances is like a homecoming; what Arnulfo and his daughter do helps to keep their culture alive. As Arnulfo says, “this art form is of grave importance to this community. As time passes, the Mexican population needs to feel and see that their culture is one to be celebrated and not hidden. The more educated citizens can be, the easier for everyone to understand one another.”

Contact information: Arnulfo Camarillo, 309.762.0949
Karina Camarillo,