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Mind Opener: Stomp the Night Away

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By Melissa Lambarena

Published Jul 1, 2008 8:00 AM


Get your dancing shoes ready — the Fowler Museum's summer series is back. Folklorico, a Latin American dance that emphasizes local folk culture, will be taught by Alondra Ramirez, principal dancer and assistant choreographer of Ballet Folklorico Flor de Mayo and Folklorico de Santa Monica College.

The dance series takes place on the Fowler Terrace every Thursday in August at 7 p.m., when Ramirez will teach El Son de La Negra, a dance "inspired by a dark-skinned woman," she says. It is a lively, traditional courtship dance with intricate footwork from the state of Jalisco in western Mexico.

In El Son de La Negra, the women flirtatiously dance away from the men as the men attempt to impress them with their footwork and loud and elaborate stomping. At the end, the woman is won over by the man's skill and persistence. Men usually wear the elaborately embroidered riding suits known as charro outfits, which are also often worn by mariachis. The women wear skirts embellished with brightly colored ribbon and lace circles around the bottom of the skirt.

According to Ramirez, this dance is very basic, and the first one she learned. "Folklorico has a lot of influences from many countries," she says. "Every region has a different style and technique. It varies greatly, but once you bring it together it allows you to see how different and alike everyone can be."

Ramirez has been with the Ballet Folklorico Flor de Mayo for 14 years. The touring dance group includes students of various ages and gets hired to perform across Los Angeles. "It's a great experience because we get to learn about our culture," says Ramirez. "I'm excited to be teaching at UCLA. ... I've never worked on a course that has not been in preparation for a performance and only for fun."

The Fowler's manager of public programs, Bonnie Poon '95, hopes this will make Folklorico more accessible.

"The whole idea is to introduce people to something new," Poon says. "The series is not only to exercise their mind, but their body."

Sunset Dance Series. Thursdays in August, 7 p.m., Fowler Museum Terrace, UCLA. Free. For more information, call (310) 825-4361 or log on to www.fowler.ucla.edu.

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