Mexican traditional folk dance is called “folklórico dance”. And every region of Mexico has its own typical dance moves and folk dress used by the dancers. It is said that there are three important things about folklórico dancing: the music, the dance, and the costume. In this article, we’re going to talk about the folklórico costumes and their making. The women’s folklórico outfit always is adorned with ribbons, lace, or/and embroidery. And this Mexican folk clothing is really bright and awesome.
This is Velma Roybal, a craftswoman from Pueblo West, Colorado, who makes Mexican costumes for folklórico dancers. And this is her story.
Sewing to me is a way to express my creativeness, my talents, my skills. It's also calming for me because it makes you slow down and stop and think about what you're doing, and I'm the kind of person that needs to have that – to calm down and enjoy the process. It took me years to understand that I had to enjoy the process of what I was doing, not the outcome. Because the outcome was, in the end, the bonus.
I first got started with sewing when I was a young girl and I was playing with my dolls, and then as I grew older, my grandmother taught me how to sew. And then I started making clothes for myself and found that it was something I could do that would help my creative juices. Also, when I would go to the stores and sometimes I would buy something from the store and it just wasn't made well, so I would go home and make it better.
There are three important things with folklórico dancing: the music, the dance, and the costume. What I do is I research the costume. I look for a picture and a picture could be off the internet, it could be a photograph, it could be a picture in a book, it could be the actual costume itself.
Then, I have to sit back and figure out how I'm going to do this, the best way possible, the most economically picked way possible, and the easiest way. Because, usually, you have to make more than one. We usually have sets of eight.
So I will do the first costume and I kind of create it as I go. In the first costume, I experiment with different fabrics, experiment with different ribbons, laces, etc. A lot of times, I will go to flea markets and yard sales and I buy ribbons and lace and a lot of thread. I always collect threads. Those are my collections: thread, ribbon, and lace.
Making folklórico costumes is an art form to me because it's a challenge. It's a challenge to make them within a budget, it's a challenge to make them with the materials that we have, it's a challenge also to make the design the same that it needs to be made. And it's exciting. When I'm finished, I'm really excited about what I’ve done.
In folklórico, there are two styles of dance: one of them is traditional and the other one is ballet. In traditional, we deal with what was there at the time period. And in ballet, it's a little bit more modern – modern fabrics, more of what they have nowadays. Usually, dancers need costumes that are right in the middle of both genres, both styles.
In the costumes that I make, when I saw for the group, what draws me to that is the challenge, the fact that I'm part of a team, part of a family, part of a legacy that will send this beautiful culture on. I'm part of the history and part of the future.