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The Universidad de Santiago Folkloric Ballet
Carlos Reyes Zárate
“Finding the roots”
The Universidad de Santiago Folkloric Ballet was born in 1965 as a result of the interest of teachers and students from the Universidad Técnica del Estado. Both groups (students and teachers) got together and started to rehearse in some of the University’s classrooms.
In 1981, Carlos Reyes Zárate, dance and choreography teacher from the Universidad de Chile assumed the direction of the ballet. He comments his role in the group: “When I arrived here there was a folkloric ballet. That was the original genesis. What I did was to consolidate those intentions and give them a course and a more technical preparation“.
The ballet of our University has the mission of “projecting and showing the traditional Chilean cultural expressions, orienting its activity to the study, application and creation of diverse manifestations of the traditional culture”. In this way, the ballet assumes the folklore as a current and moving field, not as something exclusive of past generations but rather as a way to know and understand our people in a better way.
With Reyes’s arrival the time came in which the ballet started to have a bigger projection. As years go by, a repertoire has been created; it includes 12 works of choreographic creation, four thematic programs and some minor works that guarantee the permanence of the Universidad de Santiago Folkloric Ballet as a space for the knowledge, practice, projection and diffusion of folklore at national and international level.
According to its director “all these works have a thematic character of artistic development. Summing up, they are stories narrated by the dance and the music”. The process is much more complex than playing a traditional song and dance it with typical costumes as many people think a folkloric ballet works. They are far away from the truth. “This is a careful and responsible work. First we must create a script, then we work the music, the costumes, and of course the choreography” Reyes says.
The work of the Folkloric Ballet is not only the creation of works, but also a historical and musical research. It is precisely in this area that the contribution of Genaro Arias, its musical director, is vital.
For his trajectory, he was nominated for the 1996 National Folklore Prize as the Best Folkloric Ballet. This nomination is very important mainly because the musical performance and the ballet are totally carried out by students and alumni of our University. In Carlos Reyes’s words: “We don’t have professional dancers here; everything is the result of rehearsals (three times a week, three hours each rehearsal) and self-management.”
The ballet’s projection has not only been at local level. It has represented the University and the country at the international concert in Montevideo-Uruguay, San Juan-Argentina, Estado de Guerrero- Mexico. At national level it has participated in cultural activities programmed by the Regional Government of the 10th region with successful performances in Los Lagos, Llanquihue, Puerto Montt, Lago Ranco, Puerto Varas, Fresia, Curaco de Vélez, Achao and Futrono.
Among the works of its repertoire we can mention: “Escenas Campesinas, la Trilla”; “Tres horas antes del día” (La Fiesta de Cuasimodo); “Archipiélago” (Trilogía); “Alturas”; “Canto por Angelito”; “Del Cielo derramen Flores”, among others.