It was two years ago when a nurse at a local facility for developmentally disabled adults first brought her love for dancing folklorico to her patients, some of whom have Down Syndrome, Mental Retardation, severe Autism or other disabilities.
About 25 patients, ages 22 to 45, participate in the ballet folklorico classes taught by Pico Rivera resident Martha Tiscareño at the East Los Angeles Remarkable Citizens’ Association (EL ARCA) in Lincoln Heights. Tiscareño, who performed for about a decade before she started to instruct at EL ARCA, teaches her students the dances popular in the different regions of Mexico, such as the fandango jarocho and jarabe tapatio from the state of Veracruz.
When the program first started, the dancers had to learn all the regions and steps, today they just practice to review the steps they already know, Tiscareño said, noting that many of the participants have been with her from the beginning.
She told EGP that despite their diagnosed disabilities, for the most part, the men and women who take her dance classes have outgoing personalities and already enjoy dancing. Others just want to get involved and have fun, she explained, noting that if someone just wants to come to be part of the group but not dance, it’s okay.
“ They perform here for themselves, for birthdays, and during the summer they dance Hawaiian,” said Tiscareño, explaining that folklorico is not the only style of dance they learn.
And while there are no upcoming public performances currently scheduled, Tiscareño says the group has in the past performed at fundraising events, parades and even at Olvera Street.