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Marquette students use Baile Folklorico to create a safe space on campus

Maya Rodriguez

A common fate for students of color attending colleges around the country is finding the student body doesn’t look like them. Marquette University is no exception. About 70% of Marquette students are white — and it can be a challenge for students of color to find safe spaces to embrace their culture or meet others like them.

Maya Rodriguez, Edgar Padilla and Jasmine Liss are all founding members of a new dance group at Marquette, called Baile Folklorico. The group hopes to provide a safe space — and have fun dancing while they do it.

“I really, really missed dance and I knew that I was on campus all the time so I kind of wanted to mix the two,” says Rodriguez. “Baile Folkorico is a big part of our culture and it helps us express our culture and our love for Mexico.”

All of the founding members are second-generation immigrants and some of them, like Rodriguez and Padilla, have previous experience dancing Baile Folklorico and wanted to continue doing so in college. Others, like Liss, simply wanted to try something new while also embracing their Mexican heritage.

“I feel like I wanted to find a group of people who look like me and come from the same background as me because those are the people I feel like I can relate to the most,” says Liss. “Baile Folklorico has always been a big part of my family, my Grandma did it growing up and my mom did it as well, but I never got the opportunity so I want to do that now.”

Padilla, who has been a longtime friend of Rodriguez says that Baile Folklorico has been a big part of his life and he wanted to continue to learn and teach others how to dance it at Marquette.

“Baile Folklorico is a big passion that I have and I wanted to help share that passion with other people...I'm proud of my Mexican heritage and I think there is no better way to share it than through the arts,” says Padilla.

Essential to the artform of Baile Folklorico is the unique dresses that are worn while performing the dance. These dresses are specific to each state or region in Mexico, but can sometimes be expensive — another reason why Rodriguez wanted to start the group.

“The dresses are one of the more expensive aspects of Folklorico because you have to buy them handmade, usually only from Mexico…we are really hoping to get the funding to get some practice skirts and performance outfits,” says Rodriguez.

When the group does get their performance dresses Rodriguez says that the goal is to be able to perform at various events across Marquette’s campus.

“A dream of mine would be to coordinate with other groups on campus and do maybe a cultural showcase where everyone can perform something from their culture,” says Rodriguez before explaining that right now the group is simply focused on practice.

Beck Andrew Salgado was a producer with Lake Effect.
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