100 Dallas Creatives: No. 26 Dance Preserver Lisa Mesa Rogers

Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.

Much has been said this year about the influx of progressive arts and theater into Dallas, but there is still a very strong dedication to the classics in our fair city. Despite these leaps and bounds forward, Mexican folkloric ballet is one of those mediums that is eternally fresh, and always seems to resonate with its audiences.

Whether it's a lust for nostalgia or simply a testament to the enduring nature of folk dancing, ballet folklorico is extremely popular with Dallas audiences, probably because the The Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico is widely considered to be one of the best in the country. Outside of professional performances, the company also provides dance instruction to students, the majority of whom attend the Ballet Folklorico on scholarship.

Under the direction of Lisa Mesa Rogers, Ballet Folklorico is expanding their efforts both in providing dance education to students across the metroplex, but also in curating a program of performances that showcases multiple facets of Mexican culture. We talked to Rogers about how the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico keeps a centuries-old art form fresh, the expansion of their education programs, and what moving forward into 2015 will look like.

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What do you ultimately hope to communicate to Dallas about Mexican traditional dance? How does the programming at Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico achieve those goals? We strive to increase the awareness of Folklorico as an educational art form that reflects history, geography, physical fitness and culture. The organization helps young people and adults of all ethnic backgrounds achieve awareness of the Hispanic heritage. Our company has both professional adult performers and amateur youth programming that performed to 250,000 audience members in 2014.

In addition to that, the organization provides educational and cultural programs to twenty-two residencies in the Dallas Independent School District while also expanding into the Richardson ISD. During the summer, we offer a cultural camp that explores folk arts and dance theater. These summer programs showcase at local venues, like Klyde Warren Park and the Latino Cultural Center.

This kind of dance is important both because it is an important cultural institution and adds diversity to the Dallas arts scene. Can you think of any programming in particular that has been able to show a new angle to this kind of dance?

I feel our associations with different art entities in the city of Dallas have impacted the variety we bring to the community. We have had ongoing relationships or formal partnerships with AT&T Performing Arts Center, the Latino Cultural Center, Rhythmic Souls' Rhythm in Fusion Festival in January 2015, and the multitude of artists and dancers the city of Dallas has to offer. With the influence of this aggregate collection of art in the setting of the metropolitan city of Dallas, ANMBF's greatest level of artistic impression has been exemplified in our annual performances at the Winspear Opera House in the Arts District of Dallas.

How do you keep traditional dance moving forward? ANMBF has always maintained a multi-disciplinary approach to its artistic focus by concentrating on several different geographical and time periods that characterize the fine arts of Mexico. At the same time, we insert other areas of dance with influences from the community of Dallas, ballet, and urban music and dance. This progressive approach and variety of expression was on full display in our 2014 Winspear Opera House performance, "A Tale of Two Quinces", which was filled with songs and dances of many generations, and included costumes, international music, and a fashion show of exquisite Quinceanera gowns designed by one of Dallas' finest young designers.

What can we expect in 2015 from ANMBF? We have been most proud of our yearly performances at the Winspear Opera House where ANMBF is the sole Hispanic arts member organization at the AT&T Arts District. This year the performances will focus on the life of our founder, Anita N. Martinez, and will mark the 40th anniversary of the organization. Mrs. Martinez was born in 1925 and is a fifth generation Mexican-American. She was raised in the Dallas Mexican Community known as Little Mexico, El Barrio. Her career in community service began at age 14 in driving for improvements in Little Mexico. Her efforts continued in roles as the first Hispanic woman elected to the City Council of a major US city in 1969 and focused on improvements in social, health, and infrastructure equalities in depressed communities of West Dallas and "Little Mexico."

What do you think you bring from your diverse background in the arts to the Ballet Folklorico? How does that translate to what the audience sees on stage? I am excited to be able to lay the foundation for a sustainable operational infrastructure based on various programs including our ANMBF Academy, our amateur youth dancers, professional dancers, Independent School District partnerships, recurring fund-raising efforts, and most noticeably our over 150 public performances held across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The most exciting aspect of programming comes from an audience member enthusiastically proclaiming "I had no idea ANMBF was doing this kind of programming."

100 Creatives: 100. Theater Mastermind Matt Posey 99. Comedy Queen Amanda Austin 98. Deep Ellum Enterpriser Brandon Castillo 97. Humanitarian Artist Willie Baronet 96. Funny Man Paul Varghese 95. Painting Provocateur Art Peña 94. Magic Man Trigg Watson 93. Enigmatic Musician George Quartz 92. Artistic Luminary Joshua King 91. Inventive Director Rene Moreno 90. Color Mavens Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger 89. Literary Lion Thea Temple 88. Movie Maestro Eric Steele 87. Storytelling Dynamo Nicole Stewart 86. Collaborative Artist Ryder Richards 85. Party Planning Print maker Raymond Butler 84. Avant-gardist Publisher Javier Valadez 83. Movie Nerd James Wallace 82. Artistic Tastemakers Elissa & Erin Stafford 81. Pioneering Arts Advocates Mark Lowry & Michael Warner 80. Imaginative Director Jeremy Bartel 79. Behind-the-Scenes Teacher Rachel Hull 78. Kaleidoscopic Artist Taylor "Effin" Cleveland 77. Filmmaker & Environmentalist Michael Cain 76. Music Activist Salim Nourallah 75. Underground Entrepreneur Daniel Yanez 74. Original Talent Celia Eberle 73. Comic Artist Aaron Aryanpur 72. Classical Thespian Raphael Parry 71. Dance Captain Valerie Shelton Tabor 70. Underground Culture Mainstay Karen X. Minzer 69. Effervescent Gallerist Brandy Michele Adams 68. Birthday Party Enthusiast Paige Chenault 67. Community Architect Monica Diodati 66. Intrepid Publisher Will Evans 65. Writerly Wit Noa Gavin 64. Maverick Artist Roberto Munguia 63. Fresh Perspective Kelsey Leigh Ervi 62. Virtuosic Violinist Nathan Olson 61. Open Classical's Dynamic Duo Mark Landson & Patricia Yakesch 60. Rising Talent Michelle Rawlings 59. Adventurous Filmmaker Toby Halbrooks 58. Man of Mystery Edward Ruiz 57. Inquisitive Sculptor Val Curry 56. Offbeat Intellect Thomas Riccio 55. Doers and Makers Shannon Driscoll & Kayli House Cusick 54. Performance Pioneer Katherine Owens 53. Experimental Filmmaker and Video Artist Mike Morris 52. Flowering Fashioner Lucy Dang 51. Insightful Artist Stephen Lapthisophon 50. Dallas Arts District 49. Farmer's Market Localvore Sarah Perry 48. Technological Painter John Pomara 47. Progressive Playmakers Christopher Carlos & Tina Parker 46. Purposive Chef Chad Houser 45. Absorbing Artist Jeff Gibbons 44. Artistic Integrator Erica Felicella 43. Multi-talented Director Tre Garrett 42. Anachronistic Musician Matt Tolentino 41. Emerging Veteran Actor Van Quattro 40. Festival Orchestrator Anna Sophia van Zweden 39. Literary Framer Karen Weiner 38. Man Behind the Music Gavin Mulloy 37. The Godfather of Dallas Art Frank Campagna 36. Rising Star Adam A. Anderson 35. Artist Organizer Heyd Fontenot 34. Music Innovator Stefan Gonzalez 33. Triple Threat Giovanni Valderas 32. Cultural Connector Lauren Cross 31. Critical Artist Thor Johnson 30. Delicate Touch Margaret Meehan 29. Fashion Forward Charles Smith II 28. Dedicated Artist Carolyn Sortor 27. Political Cyber Banksy Wylie H Dallas


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