The vibrant dance group Izel Ballet Folklorico has been performing regional dances from different states of Mexico for seven years. The group is scheduled to perform “El Color de Mexico” at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Winchester Cultural Center Theater, 3130 McLeod Drive.
Ramon Lizaola, a native of Mexico, founded the group in 2006. It focuses on cultural dance traditions from different Mexican states such as Jalisco, Veracruz, Sinaloa and Chihuahua.
“I am passionate about this type of dancing because we are recognizing our Mexican culture,” Lizaola said. “It’s very abundant. In this country, it’s important for people to see our traditions and for Chicano children to recognize their own culture, even if they were born here.”
Lizaola moved to Las Vegas in 2001 and started the group five years later.
“I started this group with some friends because I wanted to continue dancing,” Lizaola said. “The group quickly grew from there, and pretty soon I formed the company.”
The group is divided into three sections by age: 6- to 12-year-olds, 13- to 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds to adults.
“I’ve been dancing with this group for five years,” said Lizaola’s daughter Fernanda, 15. “We’re a very close group. We are all outgoing, and everyone trusts each other.”
The group has performed many times at the Winchester Cultural Center and in other venues throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
“When I practice dancing, it takes everything off my mind,” Fernanda said. “You forget about everything else. At first, I’m really nervous when I’m onstage and see all the people watching me. But then I just start dancing, and it feels great.”
Erika Borges, cultural specialist at the Winchester Cultural Center, said the group has been performing there since 2006.
“They’re always a great group to have,” Borges said. “They usually bring in special guests and blow the audience away. They bring the heat, and everyone leaves with a smile.”
The group is also scheduled to perform Nov. 2 at the center’s Life in Death Festival alongside other folklorico groups. The festival will honor the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and feature music and dancing.
Lizaola said the word “izel” translates to “unique” in the native Mexican language of Nahuatl. He chose the name Izel Ballet Folklorico to represent the unique and colorful style of the group.
Lizaola teaches all the classes. He started dancing when he was 12 in his home state of Baja California. There he gained a passion for dancing when he started performing with the Tijuana-based Grupo de Danza Folklorica Kicukpaico.
Lizaola has invited Grupo de Danza Folklorica Kicukpaico to perform with his group Oct. 19. He added that the performance would be like taking a trip through Mexico and visiting different regions.
“The performance will feature the music and dancing from our cultural roots,” he said.
Lizaola said there are approximately 40 people in the group, but he always welcomes new members.
According to Lizaola, the group has six events scheduled next year, including a few at the Winchester Cultural Center.
“Dancing makes me feel proud of my culture,” Fernanda said. “I don’t try to hide my face if my friends are in the audience. I hold my head up high and dance for everyone to see me.”
Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 the day of the show and can be purchased at the Winchester front desk or at clarkcountynv.gov/parksregistration.
Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter Sandy Lopez at email@example.com or 702-383-4686.