Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Reader 1

Kevin Williamson

Reader 2

Ronnie Brosterman

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2020 Chloe C Vich


This dance project explores the consequences of assimilation on immigrants’ cultural practices and identity specifically for Mexican-Americans in Southern California. The dance project explores the crossing of borders through mixed contemporary and Mexican ballet folklorico dance styles in order to tell a story of immigrants trying, failing, and succeeding in crossing the U.S. and Mexico border. By exploring the integration of Western dance styles with Mexican ballet folklorico, this paper will analyze how Mexican identity, as expressed through dance or song, is maintained by immigrants to remain connected their culture, but is changed through the process of assimilation.

Mexican ballet folklorico is at its base a fusion of indigenous ceremonial, social, and dance traditions with European folkloric traditions that has been used as a political tool to create national identity. Yet, until Ballet Folklorico de Mexico’s founding in the 1950’s, Mexican ballet folklorico, including folkloric songs, was performed in its traditional form, both in the US and Mexico, as a way to establish community and preserve tradition. One such example of this can be seen with the existence of the Mexican Players from Padua Hills in Claremont. However, once ballet folklorico was shared globally, many artists of Mexican ancestry have continuously found different ways to integrate non-folk art forms with traditional Mexican folk practices that often serve to represent a new, mixed identity. Some contemporary artists that have integrated various non-folk art forms with Mexican folk traditions include Alfonso Cervera, Ballet Nepantla, Primera Generación Dance Collective, and Las Cafeteras. For the Mexican-American ballet folklorico dancer, these artists who blend westernized dance styles with folk dance are important because they perform ballet folklorico for audiences with less exposure to folk traditions, and provide new ways of expressing the complexity of Mexican-American identity due to the need to assimilate. As such, the question examined here is how has the performance of traditional Mexican folk practices evolved over time and impacted the identity of those who have immigrated to the US?

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