By Joseph Knoop
The rich culture, music and dance of Colombia will be coming to Zionsville Performing Arts Center June 28 courtesy of the Colombian Folkloric Ballet of Houston.
Eberto “Tiko” Amador, president and executive director of the ballet, said he hopes that the diversity of Colombia will radiate through the performance.
“There are good people, hardworking people, and we’re very proud of our culture and background,” Amador said.
Founded in 1983, the Colombian Folkloric Ballet’s mission statement includes the preservation and celebration of Colombian culture through education, folk dances and cultural programs year round.
The show “Mi Colombia” portrays the five major regions of Colombia through music and dance, including the Andes, Atlantic Coast, the Eastern Plains, the Pacific Coast and the Amazon rain forest.
Amador felt the need to promote a new image of Colombia because of its stereotypical portrayal as a land of drug dealers and negativity.
“We have the second generation of Colombians in the Houston area,” Amador said. “It’s something that I’m very proud of. The new generation is helping us maintain tradition and the culture.”
The ballet company provides lessons to both professional dancers and at-risk youth in the Houston area. Dancers for the ballet company are also regularly taken to performances of the Houston Ballet and Houston Theatre District Broadway musicals to enhance their training.
“The love I have for my country, it’s in my veins,” said Sandra Villaquiran, who performs as a soloist dancer for the ballet company.
Villaquiran, who considers herself a first generation Colombian American, shares Amador’s sentiments about the need to portray the cultural variety of Colombia. Villaquiran participates in the children’s outreach programs, teaching kids about the country’s heritage and instructing them in dance.
“They’re just enamored by the makeup and dresses, and they’re learning,” Villaquiran said.
Many native Colombian children begin dance lessons in primary school, something Colombian American youth rarely receive until they’re older, if at all.
And Villaquiran’s favorite portion of the show is the Amazonian dance, featuring fast and strong movements.
“I feel a huge connection with my audience,” Villaquiran said.
“Mi Colombia,” a performance by the Colombian Folkloric Ballet of Houston ● Zionsville Performing Arts Center ● 1000 Mulberry St. in Zionsville ● 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. June 28 ● Tickets start at $23 ● For more information call 733-4833 or visit http://pac.zcs.k12.in.us/pac.