Dallas ISD Dance Director Went Back to Class to Keep Hispanic Heritage Tradition Alive

Sunset High School Dance Department Director Leah Longoria Huggins realized she'd need to learn Folklorico Dance when she saw the colorful costumes in the dance storage room

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The Sunset Dance Company at Sunset High School in Dallas is rehearsing for an upcoming Folklorico Ballet performance for Hispanic Heritage Month.

"It's very important to me to get it right," Sunset High School Dance Department Director Leah Longoria Huggins said. "I just did not want to shortchange the students' experience."

That's why, when Longoria Huggins started working at Sunset in 2010, she knew she needed to go back to class.

"I opened up the closet to the dance storage room and I saw only Folklorico costumes and I freaked out," Longoria Huggins said. "Cause I didn't know it. I just knew it was 'that Mexican dance'."

Longoria Huggins took private Folklorico Ballet lessons for a year to be able to direct the Sunset Dance Company in the traditional dance form.

"For her to learn it so quickly really impressed me," junior Perla Sanchez said.

"It's amazing," senior Leslie Nunez said. "Because to learn Folklorico is really hard."

The dance combines intricate footwork with vocals, skirt movements, and formations. It changes from region to region.

"Most of my family is from Mexico," Nunez said. "So it makes me feel closer to them."

"When I'm dancing Folklorico, I feel really proud of my Mexican culture," Sanchez said. "I feel like I make my parents proud, as well as my community proud."

Longoria Huggins said she gained more than the knowledge of how to do the dance.

"What I love about Folklorico dance is that it connects me to my culture," Longoria Huggins said. "I feel I really understand where I come from now."

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