OTHER GROUPS DIRECTED BY MARÍA GUADALUPE CASTRO PÁRAMO.
Although this is primarily a brief chronicle of the Grupo Folklórico Oyohualli, its founder and director, María Guadalupe, has also founded and co-founded and directed other groups at the same time. Therefore, the members of those groups should also be included here, albeit in passing. This will give a better idea of what Ma. Guadalupe has accomplished as a pioneer of folklore in California.
Grupo Folklórico Cuahutin, from 1995 to 2002.
In 1995, Ma. Guadalupe joined the staff of the Magnet Program of Mt. Vernon Elementary, as a Mexican folk dance and Line Dance instructor. The Magnet Program complements the Academic curriculum of a school by offering classes after school hours, so that those parents who cannot be at home when the children leave the school at 2 p.m. can be assured that their offspring are in a safe environment doing something fun and educational. Thus, schools that are designated as Magnet offer classes such as art (painting), piano, Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Danza folklòrica, Mariachi music, choir, gymnastics, etc. Classes are offered on a trimester basis and each student assisted by a parent may choose 3 classes per quarter. And students who so choose, may take the same class over and over.
This is how Ma. Guadalupe was eventually able to form the Grupo Folklórico Cuauhtin (Las Aguilas de Mt Vernon) with the students in her Advance class.
Her initial accomplishment was to get the school to purchase the appropriate shoes for girls and boys, as well as a set of 30 rehearsal skirts for the girls--two essential elements for the teaching of this type of dance. Next came the difficult task of getting her classes moved from the classroom with a carpted floor to the stage which had a wooden floor. And the final achievement was to get the school to get actual costumes for performances. By the time Ma. Guadalupe left Mt. Vernon, after 7 years of teaching, the wardrobe collection included dresses for Jalisco, Huapango Tamaulipeco, Yucatan and Line dance.
At first these classes lacked popularity, but slowly they gained a following and the groups grew in size and in quality (there is a marked difference in the type of effort and enthusiasm shown by students who chose to take that class, and those who are forced to do it).
As the advance group grew in proficiency and the wardrobe in costumes, the group started to get invitations to perform at other schools and at different events in malls and clubs. And in the year 2000, the group performed at Danzantes Unidos Festival in Fresno, California.
Curiously, one of the many performances given by the Grupo Folklórico Cuahutin that was originally filmed for a local broadcast, was also broadcasted in Texas, and the dancers found out only because the father of one of the dancers called her, excited and proud, to congratulate her.
Grupo Folklórico Ihtotiani, from 1997 to 2000.
In 1997, a new group was born in Shafter, California. It was organized by one of the members of the G. F. Oyohualli. She asked Ma. Guadalupe to name the group and to teach the class and direct the performances. Thus, the name of Grupo Folklórico Ihtotiani was selected, because it means dancer, and the group formed by students of different elementary schools and junior highs, began rehearsals.
This association lasted three years, during which the group performed in Shafter and in Bakersfield. For one program at Mt. Vernon, the Grupo Folklórico Oyohualli, the Grupo Folklórico Ihtotiani, and the Grupo Folklórico Cuahutin came together for a memorable performance.
The pictures included here illustrate some of their performances. Photogallery.
Grupo Foloklórico from Fresno City College, since 2002.
In 2002, Ma. Guadalupe was only directing the Grupo Folklórico Oyohualli as well as Grupo Folklórico Cuauhtin. This would not last long however, because in August of that year she left Mt. Vernon to begin teaching Mexican folk dance -the history as well as the movement- at Fresno City College.
Two classes of Mexican Folk Dance had been a staple in Fresno City for many years--one for beginners and one for advance students. A significant aspect of these classes, and unique in academia, has been the fact that each class is composed of a lecture and a movement portion. Therefore, during the first part of the class, it is possible to discuss the historical, cultural and symbolic aspect of the dances that are taught during the latter part. The lab (laboratory) refers to the movement aspect of the class in which the steps and choreographies are taught.
Although the beginning and the advance classes are taught separately, both utilize the teachers’ manuals written by Ma. Guadalupe. There are three of these manuals, and each one contains dance monographs pertinent to the classes.
Although these classes are taught on a semester cycle, and therefore, it is difficult to form a permanent performing group, it is not altogether impossible. There are students who enjoy the degree of difficulty and the variety of dances taught by Ma. Guadalupe, and they return to repeat a class many times.
In regards to the wardrobe, this groups also started practically from zero. But with the help of the administration and the work of the students themselves, new costumes have been purchased every semester. Therefore, new and more varied regions are presented as a result.
Because of the economic support given to the group by the school, Ma. Guadalupe decided to forgot the traditional Nahuatl word that would be part of the artistic name of the group. Istead, the title intends to reflect its direct association with the school.
To showcase the work of the students, as soon as the group had the necessary costumes, Ma. Guadalupe introduced the program: Noche de Danza Mexicana. The program takes place on the Saturday closest to the actual May 5th. The Noche de Danza has already been presented 4 times to a full house (2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007).
Aside from the Noche de Danza, the group also performs at different events in the school itself, as well as in Fresno and surrounding communities.
In 2003, and 2004, the group performed at the Danzantes Unidos Festival, and a picture of one of these performances found its way into the home page of the Danzantes Unidos Festival. (It is the picture with an orange background, and a group of girls in white blouses and floral skirts crissed-crossed by two white lines). Several other pictures can be found in the web page of Vida en el Valle.
Even if the different groups directed by Ma. Guadalupe perform dances from the same region, the costumes of each group are different and unique, designed specially for the group so that aside from reflecting the appropriate styles of the region, will give a unique character to the group.
This is made possible by the fact that Ma. Guadalupe has dedicated her life to the research of the dances, music and costumes of México, and she can select a model from the many that are available at each location, instead of having to copy a single one from a book or from those of other groups. Therefore, each one of the groups directed by her are always recognized and recognizeable for the authenticity of the dances and of the costumes.
Music: Caballos panzones.
Grupo Folklórico Cuahutin, Mt. Vernon Elementary.
Thank you notes at Mt. Vernon.
Line Dance Group, Mt. Vernon Elementary School.
Line Dance Group, Mt. Vernon Elementary School.
Mt. Vernon's Line Dance Group performing at East Hills Mall,Bakersfield, California .
Grupo Folklórico Ihtotiani.
Grupo Folklórico Ihtotiani after rehearsal.
The Ihtotiani Group before a performance.
G. F. Ihtotiani performing huapango.
The Ihtotiani Group in class.
G. F. Ihtotiani learning the jarana.
Grupo Folklórico de Fresno City College, performing Norte de Tamaulipas at the Noche de Danza Mexicana 2007.
Norte de Tamaulipas at the Noche de Danza Mexicana 2007.
Grupo Folklórico de Fresno City College, performing Campeche.
Grupo Folklórico de Fresno City College, performing Tamaulipas.
Grupo Folklórico de Fresno City College, performing Michoacán.