We sent questions to Vanessa Ramirez, Executive Director and Founder of Ballet Folklorico Quetzalli (BFQ) in Chandler and President of C.A.L.L.E. de Arizona, to get additional insight into what is driving her work. It is her creativity and partnership that makes Chandler’s Annual Mariachi Folklorico Festival possible. In October 2019, the festival celebrated 20 years with the Queen of Mariachi Aida Cuevas.
Vanessa created Ballet Folklorico Quetzalli-AZ in 2008. Since its inception, the organization has emerged from a grassroots, community-driven effort of youth advocacy, self-empowerment and cultural education to a full-blown studio of the arts serving more than 100 students, ages four to adult. In due time the spirit of an organization known as C.A.L.L.E de Arizona, formally called C3HR, aligned itself with what Vanessa was doing, resulting in a myriad of positive influence at various levels of community, including arts, music, dance, culture, language, stories and civic engagement.
On April 30, watch for our release of her video taking viewers through the steps of a traditional Mexican folklorico dance from Chiapas. The video gives a deeper understanding when we watch this beautiful dancing tradition, while also giving the opportunity to dance along.
How did you decide to become an arts professional with her own nonprofit organization?
Ballet Folklorico Quetzalli-AZ began at Snedigar Recreation Center with just about six little girls coming to a summer class…and it grew and grew from there. I didn’t quite realize the magnitude of the impact this was making in the community. I began to learn about non-profits through my participation in C3HR. Mr. Joe Garcia, became a mentor and guided me to establish BFQ-AZ as a nonprofit organization. I am glad I accepted his guidance and started this journey. We have been able to help so many youth in our community by providing a space for self discovery, a safe space to move freely, learn about Mexican Heritage and create a special connection with their families.
What or who is inspiring you right now? And, why?
My dancers are the ones who are keeping me inspired right now. I miss them so much. It’s been a time of reflection for sure. I’ve realized how quiet my life is without their energy, their eagerness to learn new things, and the amazing determination they have to accept any challenging dance move that I present them with. BFQ-AZ has created a beautiful dance family, who support one another and during these uncertain times, that has been very important to have.
What has surprised you most about music during this global event?
I really love to see people worldwide embracing the healing power of music.
Is there a virtual arts experience that you cannot get enough - a singer, dancer, theatre, museum doing something really cool? Something you have enjoyed with your children that you would recommend to others?
There isn’t just one thing that I can pinpoint …but I am enjoying the many virtual concerts, I am loving the videos that my friends(local and international musicians) are sharing from the comfort of their homes. It helps me feel connected to them during this time. It is wonderful to see the various ways in which people are using performing arts to find healing during this time and sharing that with the world.
I’ve enjoyed little concerts by Martin Marquez, the talented ladies of La Luz de La Luna, just recently several mariachi musicians put together a video of an iconic song, El Son De La Negra and THAT WAS AMAZING. Some of the greatest musicians from various Mariachi groups came together as one.
If you weren't in the arts, what other profession would you want to have?
I can’t imagine not being in the arts, but if I had to choose something else, it would have to be something related to traveling.
Do you have a public social media profile you would like us to share or that we can tag when we post the performance - Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?