"It has become a holiday tradition," said Elaina Hernández,
El Corazón director. "In fact, when I applied to go to Disney, I
actually scheduled it around that we would perform at the
Ms. Hernández had set a goal to “slowdown in 2019,” but that
notion quickly disappeared as the number of requested
appearances and performances began to mount. Community groups
sought out the colorful pageantry and culture of the dance
troupe, as its notoriety continues to grow.
"We were really, really busy. What was nice, though, is we
really did a lot of fundraising," she said. "We really didn't
have to worry about trying to raise money, which was really,
"The community has been really great to us. They have been super
supportive in everything we do. They come to our performances
and they come to our fundraisers and we couldn't do a lot of
things without the community. They believe in what we're doing,
which is really, really nice."
That even goes for what have become staple events for
El Corazón de México Ballet Folklorico,
including Grito Fest in September and the “Thank You
for Believing” benefit dinner held each April. Both events
were packed by both the Latino community and general population.
"It was bigger than last year, so we want to do it again in
2020, said Ms. Hernández of the festival. The benefit dinner
already is scheduled to be held the first Saturday in April,
But those are the only 2020 events Ms. Hernández would reveal.
Details of some other "big announcements" are being finalized
and will come shortly.
The biggest accomplishment of 2019 may be the same as it is
every other year for the dance troupe—the sharing of the Latino
culture, both within the group and within the community.
"I don't think I have any dancers right now who are from
México," said Ms. Hernández. "Everybody is (at least) first
generation. Now we're getting into kids who are third and fourth
generation Mexican-American. So, what's nice is they can share
their experiences together."
While some of those dancers don't have the usual cultural
traditions in their families anymore, they're learning them
through the dance troupe and they can share that learned
experience with their friends and fellow dancers. That also
helps to dispel media-created myths and other misconceptions
about the Mexican immigrant population and their cultural
"It's nice going into the schools, telling them what we do and
the kids don't see any of our dancers look like what you would
think a traditional Mexican looks like, because people from
Mexico all look different, too,” explained Ms. Hernández. "It's
not like you're going to have everybody look the same down
there. That way they feel comfortable with it."
Even questions from the students can be a learning
opportunity—or at least good for a laugh. One student even asked
what the dance troupe eats. He was surprised to learn their
favorite food was pizza—just like him.
“Every time we go to a school they actually think we're from
México,” said Ms. Hernández with a laugh. “We have to tell them
we’re from Toledo. Then their kids understand our kids and our
kids understand their kids. Just try to break up stereotypes and
get comfortable with each other.”