Andrea Guajardo began dancing classical ballet at the young age of 2 in her hometown of Edinburg located in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. After quickly developing a passion for dance it didn’t take long for her to discover the many genres dance had to offer. Growing up in Edinburg, the cultural blend that blurs the lines between the Texas/Mexico border led Andrea to discover one of Mexico’s oldest traditions, ballet folklórico.
At the age of 17, Andrea’s passion and dedication for dance led her to New York City where she received a scholarship to study at The Ailey School and Fordham University. After receiving her BFA in Dance in 2013, she performed with MOMIX, a company of dancer-illusionists who present works of exceptional inventiveness and physical beauty. Andrea also actively performed with Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theater and worked as a teaching artist for both Dance Theater of Harlem and Ballet Hispanico.
On the other side of the border, a young and talented Guadalajara, Jalisco native named Martín Rodríguez began dancing ballet folklórico at 9 years old. During his youth, Martín traveled throughout Mexico and was inspired to learn more about indigenous dance and culture. Later moving to Los Angeles, he joined Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company under the direction of José Vences where Martín eventually became principal dancer. Taking a leap of faith in 2016, he said goodbye to the west coast and moved to New York City.
Little did anyone know that eventually Andrea and Martín’s paths would cross and lead to two minds putting together a dance evolution. Bonding over similar background stories of leaving home at a young age to follow their dance career dreams, they soon discovered their mutual passion for ballet folklórico and their Mexican descent. These key factors sparked their idea to found a dance company that would fuse together their passion for both classical ballet and Mexican ballet folklórico, while also having a platform to interpret the cultural and social realities faced by not only being Mexican or Mexican American but also immigrant and trans-cultural.
Inspired by American scholar of Chicana cultural theory Gloria Anzaldua, they explored the word Nepantla, a Nahuatl term of the indigenous people of Mexico that means “in the middle”. Andrea and Martín imagined they could create performances that spoke to the “in-between” qualities of being from both sides of the borderland. Thus, Ballet Nepantla was born in 2017.
Since its inception three years ago, Ballet Nepantla has recruited a multicultural cast of over 15 dancers that are professionally trained in both classical ballet and/or ballet folklórico. Their vision has granted them the opportunity to take Ballet Nepantla all over the United States and perform throughout states such as California, Texas, Kansas, Michigan, and New Mexico.
Ballet Nepantlas latest production VALENTINA evokes the strength and resilience of the women during revolutionary Mexico. Through VALENTINA, Ballet Nepantla tells the stories of wealth and power, hope and despair, and the struggle, loss and despair that these women endured.
VALENTINA will be performed at 8 PM on Friday, February 28 at the Guadalupe Theater in San Antonio, TX. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling (210)271-3151.