Ballet Folklórico: A Dance of Identity

The lights begin to dim, silent whispers rumble through the excited crowd around me. Lights flood the stage, smoke quickly cascades and ripples through the space. Percussions and woodwinds creep in crescendo, calling to centuries of culture, transporting us through time and space. Individuals march in unison filling the stage, guided by the music. The formation breaks and the cloths, patterns, and beads begin to shake, the trail to Mexicanidad begins to take shape, inhabiting each dancer. Each becomes a guide, an invitation. Welcome to The Ballet Folklórico de Amalia Hernandez, a manifestation of Mexican pride, folklore, and transformations.

The Cold War significantly influence global changes and international relations. One of the most important aspects of México’s cultural influence, which focused on the diplomatic and commercial was Ballet Folklórico. Ballet Folklórico was a key part of México's strategy for national liberation since it fostered goodwill, helped the country dismantle its third world status, and supported the country's economic and social independence.

Analyzing how Amalia Hernández formed unique creative concepts and performances is crucial to comprehending Ballet Folklórico's influence. Waldeen Falkenstein and Miguel Covarrubias, her closest mentors, believed in transforming México’s arts into contemporary representations of Mexican culture and pride. Falkenstein and Covarrubias recognized and cultivated Hernández to develop her choreography skills. They encouraged her to learn about Mexican folk traditions in order to depart from it and create new art work, a contemporary interpretation of Mexican tradition. Amalia Hernández, on the other hand, approached modern art with the intention of incorporating folk traditions.

Although there were conflicts among Mexican artists over issues of nationalism and aesthetics, when they represented México abroad, they joined together as a unified force. Performances overseas featured modern and folk choreography, the latter garnering greater attention. During the 1940s, the Mexican President praised Amalia Hernández' Ballet Folklórico for exhibiting emblematic elements of Mexican national culture. By the 1950s, this creative divide had become known as the "cactus curtain," a metaphor for the "iron curtain”. Surpassing the divide, Amalia Hernández permanently altered Mexican identity, cultural growth, and political interpretations.

Ballet Folklórico became an internationally recognized form of ballet and a revolutionary representation of diverse regional Mexican elements. Through its choreography and artistic expressions, it revolutionized both classical ballet and the traditional folk arts. The Mexican National Institute of Fine Arts supplied auspices to Ballet Folklórico, which helped the Amalia Hernández dance company attain fame on a global scale. The Ballet Folklórico dance group had achieved success in numerous international dance competitions by the middle of the 1960s, contributing significantly to México’s cultural identity.

The Cold War was a time of conflict involving capitalism and communism, principally between the US and the Soviet Union, but it also affected nations that were not directly involved in those hostilities. Developing countries that were neutral in the Cold War conflict between the US and the Soviet Union were affected differently; they bore the burdens that came with being classified as Third-World countries. The developing nations, who were stigmatized as belonging to the Third World due in part to their neutral attitudes during the Cold War, redirected their attention to national liberation. Third World nation-states that had been colonized or remained under the control of imperialist powers banded together through resistance and self- determination movements.

Under the leadership of the Bandung Conference in 1955, emerging nations, including Mexico, formed non-alliance organizations to avoid being subjugated by the opposing sides of the Cold War. Sovereignty, territorial integrity, nation-to-nation equality, non-interference in internal affairs, and peaceful coexistence were the guiding themes of the Bandung Conference. Through his activities both before and after becoming President, Adolfo López Mateos echoed this movement.

Along with advancements to industrialization, agriculture, and health programs, he signed a labor agreement with the United States. The United States-México labor treaty was drafted with his help as labor minister before to becoming president of México, making him particularly well-liked at the time. President Mateos was also well recognized for advancing industrialization, agrarian reforms, and public health initiatives during his presidency.

President Mateos deserves a great deal of credit for establishing México as a sought-after player on the global stage during his administration. The Latin American policy put forth by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933 is a part of earlier international relations between the United States and México. The policy sought for amicable relations and a ban on armed intervention between the states of the Western Hemisphere. Although these previously established ties existed between México and the United States, the transnational mobilizations of the 1960s gave rise to a bilateral framework that included domestic and international developments in México.

While supporting México's new global position, President Kennedy aimed to stifle Mexican internationalism. This was because México's dependence on the United States was advantageous for the United States economically, strategically, and diplomatically. Independence shook this firm grasp and alliance the U.S. aimed to keep. In order to highlight México's potential for tourism marketing, President Kennedy's itinerary to México was infused with abundant cultural imagery. His visit provided México with the ideal chance to promote its meticulously constructed tourism industry, built on important folkloric-cosmopolitan imagery.

None other than the Ballet Folklorico performances by Amalia Hernández were on President Kennedy's agenda. Despite winning international competitions and gaining international recognition, the Mexican Ministry of Tourism prioritized strengthening Mexico-US cooperation. As a result, the Mexican tourism industry transformed from a beach destination to one ready to showcase the thriving fine arts scene filled with varied traditional and modern characteristics.

Amalia Hernandez created Ballet Folklórico out of her passion for Mexican culture, customs, and modern dance. Mexico needed a vehicle to promote its culture abroad if it was to break free from its dependence on the United States and overcome its political and economic constraints. The international triumph of Amalia Hérnandez was not the only thing that changed for her or the Mexican culture. A nationwide rebuilding of how Mexican citizens were exposed to their ancestors' cultural practices, took place. Innovative choreography by Amalia Hernandez interprets local, political, and interpersonal folklore. Likewise, Mexico improved its sense of national identity, fine arts, tourism industry, and political ties.

I would like to thank Professor Charles Heath II for his guidance and encouragement throughout this project, as well as Research Librarian Kristina Claunch for producing and sharing valuable research guides.