Celebrate St. Vincent’s Ballet Folklorico at The Paramount

Mi Tierra Mexicana
What: Traditional dances from five regions of Mexico
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 21; 6 p.m. Aug. 22
Where: Paramount Theater, 352 Cypress St.
Who: St. Vincent Pallotti Catholic Church Ballet Folklorico, directed by Alvaro Munoz; special music by Mariachi Alma Mexicana of San Angelo
Details: Masks are required
Tickets: Adults $15; children under age 10 $8; some tickets will be available at the box office
For advance purchase or ticket information contact:
St Vincent Pallotti Catholic Church 325-672-1794
Alvaro Muñoz 214-214-1898
Aida Pantoja 325-721-1568
Julia Ramirez Trevino 325-518-1291

By LORETTA FULTON

Ballet Folklorico, a gifted dance troupe sponsored by St. Vincent Pallotti Catholic Church, is celebrating its 58th year by giving a gift to the community—two evenings of spectacular performances at the Paramount Theater.

The group of dancers, directed by Alvaro Munoz, will present “Mi Tierra Mexicana” at 7 p.m. Aug. 21 and 6 p.m. Aug. 22. Some tickets will be available at the box office. Guests will be required to wear a mask.

Munoz, who is the nephew of the founder of Ballet Folklorico, Martha Munoz de Serrano, promises that his dancers are primed for the performance of a lifetime.

“They’re ready,” Munoz said. “They’re nervous, but they’re ready.”

Alvaro Munoz and some of his Ballet Folklorico Dancers. Photo by Loretta Fulton

The performance originally was scheduled for October 2020 but was postponed due to COVID. The same thing happened in May 2021, and the show was moved to August. Barring further setbacks, the show will be performed two evenings at the Paramount. “Mi Tierra Mexicana” will feature traditional dances from five regions of Mexico–Los Concheros, Nuevo León, Guerrero, Veracruz, and Jalisco. 

Mariachi Alma Mexicana of San Angelo will perform while dancers change costumes for each of the five regions. Munoz promised a magical, enchanted evening of music and dance.

“It gets everybody in a beautiful mood,” he said.

Due to the two postponements, the dancers have had plenty of time to rehearse for the show, but also plenty of time to get nervous. One of the dancers who’s pumped for the performances–and not the least bit nervous–is Amari Day, a 12-year-old Mann Middle School student. 

Amari Day

His family attends St. Vincent and his parents took him to a Ballet Folklorico recruiting event four years ago. At a recent rehearsal, Amari’s eyes lit up just thinking about performing–his favorite thing to do–in front of the Paramount audience.

“I like it whenever there’s a big crowd of people,” Amari said.

The oldest dancers will be Munoz and Felix Arroyo. Both men are 54. Arroyo joined Ballet Folklorico as a teenager and performed regularly until his mid-20s. He’s returning to the stage at the request of Munoz. He admits to being a little sore after the strenuous rehearsals, but he’s not complaining.

“I love everything that has to do with Mexican folklore,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

Felix Arroyo

Munoz, the artistic dance director and choreographer for Ballet Folklorico, has been dancing his entire life. At age 3, he began learning the art of folklorico dance under the direction of his aunt, who founded Ballet Folklorico at St. Vincent in 1963. She is now 78 and lives in Mexico City.

“My aunt was very strict,” Munoz recalled, but he learned well under her guidance.

Munoz lives in Dallas and comes to Abilene regularly to work with the dancers. The youngsters under his guidance may not realize it, but they are being trained by a true professional. After Munoz graduated from Abilene High School in 1985, he attended Texas Tech University. He dropped out after his junior year, although he was a straight A student. Munoz worked in Lubbock for 15 years before his love of dance got the best of him. He packed up and moved to Mexico City in hopes of being accepted into Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. He made it.

“I went to go audition,” Munoz said, “and I never went back.”

Alvaro Munoz publicity photo

The Munoz family is well known at St. Vincent Pallotti, a parish they helped establish. His grandparents, Angel and Guadalupe Munoz, were among the original members. His father, Rafael still lives in Abilene and his mother, Eliane, lives in Dallas.

Although Munoz has traveled long distances since leaving Abilene in 1985, his ties are strong. He was thrilled when St. Vincent asked him in 2018 to direct Ballet Folklorico–even long distance.

“I’m back where it all started for me,” Munoz said. 

Loretta Fulton is creator and editor of Spirit of Abilene

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