Karina Camarillo

Ballet folklorico
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Karina CamarilloKarina Camarillo grew up learning traditional Mexican dance from her father, Arnulfo Camarillo. Karina, who also studied folk dance in Jalisco, Mexico, has worked with Master Artist Arnulfo Camarillo to prepare dances from the Mexican states of Nayarit, Tamaulipas, Huasteco, Veracruz, Nuevo Leon, Michoacan, and Jalisco, which are scattered over the North, Central and Southern part of Mexico.

Each dance tells a story, which is not written down but carried in the heads of the teachers and dancers. While her father also works with the dancers, Karina teaches several dances to an elementary age troupe and the high school group. She is a strict instructor, demanding that her students repeat steps again and again until they get them right. Karina has also become the primary booking contact for the group, providing information to presenters and making sure that the dancers, their costumes, and their equipment all make it to each performance.

Karina, who began dancing when she was five, has also learned to prepare and make the introductory remarks that precede each dance and that provide the cultural background about each dance and the state from which it originates. She and the group have given performances at Western Illinois University at the Quad Cities, at the Rock Island Arsenal, for the Our Lady of Guadalupe (church) celebration, at the Col Ballroom in Davenport, at the University of Iowa’s Diversity Day; and in Des Moines. Eventually, Karina will take over the directorship of the Ballet Folklorico from Arnulfo.

For recent immigrants, seeing the traditional dances is like a homecoming; what Karina and Arnulfo 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: Karina Camarillo, 309.762.0949, alegre78@msn.com