Folklórico de North Texas is an on-campus organization spreading awareness of Méxican culture while promoting diversity through expressive performances and community engagement.
Who is Folklórico de North Texas?
Folklórico de North Texas is a family developing an understanding of folkloric dance through cultural emergence. Emergent culture, as defined by Olga Ramírez, an anthropologist a the University of California — Santa Cruz, consists of new meanings, values, and practices that are not novel forms of dominant culture. In this context, dominant culture refers to caucasian Anglo-America.
The term folklórico is used collectively to define Latin dances emphasizing traditional Méxican folk culture, which was pioneered by Amalia Hernandez shortly after México’s Romantic Nationalist movement. In building national identity, México took caution to not alienate its various ethnic groups. Thus, emphasis was placed on acknowledging diversity in regional folk practices to illustrate the richness of Méxican culture as well as bringing attention to the nation’s unique character. With that said, folklórico is inherently diverse as elements from all ethnic groups and regions within México are combined to produce a language of movement — capturing and expressing the beauty of Méxican cultural heritage.
Since the organization is cultural, academic institutions including the University of North Texas have dismissed it — attributing the dance to folklorismus and no longer seen as prestigious but only good enough for tourist consumption.
This has led the organization to a multitude of problems with the main issues being lack of recognition and respect. Lack of recognition meaning people do not know who they are or what they do. Lack of respect meaning their is little to no effort for understanding of who they are or what they do. The lack of the aforementioned is an umbrella for zero funding or donor loyalty, little access to quality garments, zero professional instruction, not reaching a broader demographic, and little access to reasonable practice spaces — including the classroom above where 20 dancers aren't allowed to move the desks or chairs out. For performances, the university doesn't let the group practice in auditorium spaces until the day of a show.
To elevate the organization as well as the cultural practice the members are so dedicated to expressing in an inclusive and reinvented manner. Throughout the process, we took the upmost care in listening to the members to find out what their real-world needs were. By working together, our team was able to concept and strategize the visual communication of this organization. Ultimately, elevating Folklórico de North Texas to the prestigious level they deserve to be seen at.
Traditionally, folklórico is gender normative as many dances have specific roles for men and women. Folklórico de North Texas is non-conforming and does not discriminate based on social norms including ethnicity, sexual orientation, cultural knowledge, etc. Through cultural emergence, traditions are respected yet re-evaluated. This open-minded approach celebrates the inclusion of everyone and anyone. To be seen in this light, the organization needed a new title.
Why the X
By inserting the “x,” Folxlórico conveys gender inclusivity as the “x” can signify an unknown or neutral variable. The title Folxlórico avoids reinforcing the gender binary and redefines plurality. This was inspired by the term “Latinx,” which emerged to neutralize heavily gendered Latin languages. This supports the organization’s mission of not conforming to traditional social norms. At this moment, the group does not exhibit gender non-conformity or much diversity but understands these as demographical issues of theirs and are working to be fully inclusive.
Movement for All
As part of the identity, the organization needed a new tagline that would speak to their message of inclusivity and cultural emergence. Movement for All has the ability to be perceived as dance movement for anyone but also as a social movement — raising awareness of the cultural, ethnic, and educational significance of Folxlórico on and off campus.
The logotype is a fusion of a sans serif typeface along with an expressive “x” symbol exhibiting the essence of movement. Caution was taken to not formulate a mark that was culturally polluted, appropriated, or tarnished. This construction is not stereotypical and is unique in character yet sophisticated in stature.
The logotype and tagline represent who the group is and really provides a true feeling of what the organization entails — dance, activism, etc. Not just as a group but as individuals as well.
— Melodie Hernandez, President
The need was to capture the movement of the fabric and body through isolation of motion as well as exciting composition. Folklórico is already well respected, just not to a predominantly western demographic. This studio shoot was meant to assist the cultural dance to be seen at a high level of prestige while simultaneously shifting perceptions of the practice from something lowly to that of a high art. These images not only bring attention to movement but show the dedication within each face — showing how seriously each person takes and enjoys what they do.
Prior to the shoot, thumbnails were illustrated and diligently referred to, making sure each shot was realized appropriately and more. The dancers moved as if they were performing on stage.
Jalisco dresses were chosen not only because folklórico performances from this region are well known but because they serve as symbols of liberty that are closely linked with México’s independence movement that has come to represent the nation as a whole. Each of these photographs shows empowered, liberated individuals that can inspire marginalized youth to know that they too can feel and look this way.
Since the group still has yet to reach a broader demographic, no men are included in any of these hero images as only two are a part of the group and only one came to the shoot but not until late. Only one individual in these photos is of non-Latin origin and only one is of both Latin and African heritage. However, the group aims to change this during recruitment when they unveil their new identity in the Fall 2019 semester.
This was my first photoshoot experience and I absolutely loved it! When they revealed the photographs I was absolutely amazed. I’m so grateful to have been able to work with them.
— Sandra Rodriguez, Vice President
To ensure the longevity of Folxlórico, a student guide was created based on the organization's constitution. The group was in need of a well organized toolkit that would always be easily accessible and effective for future officers. Here, the student guide is shown on the website—shown more in depth below — where those interested in joining can find important information including membership requirements, board info, and a brand guide.
I was blown away with how easily accessible and efficient the student guide is. This amazing group of designers really understood the significance this guide has because soon the organization will be passed to the next generation.
— Vanessa Morgan, Secretary
Although the organization utilizes popular social media platforms including Instagram and Twitter, they do not have a sophisticated online presence. Since Folxlórico has grown significantly within the last year, they are in need of a website that not only showcases them in a prestigious light but is also functional; providing easy access to information through mobile responsive design. The website is shown within an iPhone X as this device is heavily popular amongst GenZers and Millennials whose demographics are increasingly reliant on digital first impressions.
To many people on the surface, we seem like just another dance group but we’re so much more than that and the website showcases this. I love that it’s mobile friendly because most students use their phone on a day-to-day basis. Having that functionality is amazing.
— Alonso Rodriguez, Treasurer
This survey was developed to help spark dialogue between more of the campus body and Folxlórico. In doing so, the organization is spreading awareness of who they are and what they do as well as why they practice folklórico in an inclusive manner. This process of normalization can be used to eliminate stigmas surrounding Latinx people and their heritage. The survey can be conducted at tabling events, UNT Flight Week, orientations, campus tours, or announced by a host in-between regalia changes during performances.
The survey will be so helpful especially since we are still a new organization. This tool is a good way for us to check on our progress and see where we might need to improve to get our name out there even more.
— Vanessa Morgan, Secretary
Stickers are a great marketing tactic, especially at a creative college campus. The stickers are fun and serve as quickly identifiable pieces of collateral that can be put on laptops, water bottles, and passed out during tabling events or performances. Like the studio photography, these stickers are inspired by the Jalisco regalia, depicting what it looks like when viewing a dancer spin from overhead.
I love how the stickers incorporate a Jalisco skirt. Something so simple but effective to capture exactly what the organization is and does.
— Melodie Hernandez, President
As was said before, the main issues of Folxlórico are the lack of respect and recognition. So how does one gain both recognition and respect simultaneously at a campus with nearly 40,000 students? An effective strategy would be to put the dancers right in front of the campus body. Since this university has large-scale digital signage, we saw that as an opportunity to exhibit advertisements of both performance and open practice events. The kiosks are placed at nearly every entrance and have the ability to generate high traffic to any promoted event.
The performance posters are meant to have a serious and dramatic yet slightly abstracted nature. The design of these is meant to further isolate the imagery thus sparking intrigue and bringing focus to the movement as well as human expression.
Posters for open practices are shown with multiple dancers to convey community—a family. These are also shown with smiling individuals to be inviting and provide a sense of fun.
The tagline is promoted on the catwalk screen inside the Union as a hashtag to encourage community engagement through social media.
Empowerment through Design
These advertisements assist the organization to an appropriate level — they are sophisticated and poised without being different or alienating. When cultural practices are shown as different, it further stigmatizes them and trivializes the people within those demographics. These promotions tell how high of an art folklórico is as well as its ethnic significance and the empowered individuals shown within can inspire students — prospective and current — as well as others to own their identities unapologetically. The organization has already expressed wanting to adopt these advertisements and would be able to do so as the purist aesthetic allows imagery and type to be switched out easily.
The posters are amazing! The vision they had for our marketing was so much more than we even envisioned for ourselves. The care that went into each part of the poster shows how they really listened to our needs.
— Alejandra Balbuena, Public Relations
Folxlórico is recovering control over their own cultural traditions and reinvesting them with new significance. The presence of this organization is pertinent, especially on-campus as it indicates higher education is possible for marginalized voices who can receive positive cultural reinforcement within a non-discriminatory safe space. They celebrate their culture while advocating for movement for all. It is just as or even more artistic than culturally elitist art forms including contemporary dance or ballet that gets put on a pedestal by privileged individuals in dominant culture. It is not other. It is beauty. It is valuable. It is needed. It deserves respect and recognition. This is Folxlórico!