A rhythmic thunder emanates from a modest barrack at East San Jose Elementary School.  Inside, a baker’s dozen of pint-size Folklórico dancers are hard at work, getting steps correct, flourishing their multi-colored skirts and sashes, all while expanding their cultural appreciation of Mexico.  

Lisa Vega, a staff member at East San Jose, has taught this free program to students for more than a decade. 

“It’s part of our school culture for many years” says Vega, who works in the school’s health office.  She stresses the importance of the program, not just for the extra-curricular activity, but the opportunity to learn about the cultures from which the dance originates.   

“They also learn what the dance means.  They get a little bit of history regarding the dances that they will be learning and what state they come from.” 

Vega also says that it’s teaching the elementary school students life lessons they’ll carry on far beyond the dance floor. 

“We try and teach them the responsibility of being on time, learning their first steps at home as well -not just here at school- and to discipline themselves.”

The program has grown in popularity over the years.  East San Jose now has a waiting list of students eager to join.  Vega stresses that they’re looking for more boys to join the program.  

In support of the activity, the APS Education Foundation recently awarded the group a grant to purchase new dresses, sashes, and headdresses for their public performances.  Adding the extra layer of quality wardrobe gives the students a greater sense of pride, says Vega, something that will encourage their pursuit of the art for years to come.