Ballet Nepantla crosses geographical and artistic borders at Queens Theatre

Photo by Eddy Fernandez and Luis Guajardo

By Tammy Scileppi

She’s from the Texas/Mexico border; the daughter of Mexican immigrants.

Andrea Guajardo’s dance troupe represents different ethnic and artistic backgrounds: three company members come from Mexico, two from California, two from Florida, a few from New York City, one from Tokyo, Japan. And three dancers currently reside in Queens. The musicians come from Mexico, Costa Rica, and across the U.S. 

After teaming up with another dancer, Martin Rodríguez, Guajardo helped launch Ballet Nepantla (“the in-between space”), a unique mix of dance forms. The amazing result? Sin Fronteras, a synergistic celebration that symbolizes the notion of living between cultures.

With elaborate costumes, scenery and lighting, this dance spectacle allows audiences to experience a slice of authentic Mexico right here in Queens.

“Ballet Nepantla crosses artistic borders by infusing contemporary ballet and West African forms into a traditional Mexican folklorico framework. It pushes the boundaries of folklorico artistic expression, just as it takes that expression across the border into a broader audience,” Guajardo said.

The dance company returns to Queens Theatre, for one show only, on March 2 at 8 pm.

“I was born and raised in Edinburg, Texas, a Texas/Mexico border town along the southern-most tip of the state. I come from a Mexican American family with parents who always taught me the importance of embracing my culture and heritage, and always supported my dream to become a professional dancer,” said Guajardo, who at 17 moved to New York City with a scholarship to study at The Ailey School, and in 2013, graduated with a BFA
in dance.

“In my final days of school, I auditioned for MOMIX and was lucky to begin working with them right away. While with MOMIX, I learned the discipline of being a professional dancer while getting to travel the world. It was an incredible experience. After touring with MOMIX for three years, I transitioned to working NYC-based jobs,”
she recalled.

Guajardo was a teaching artist for Dance Theater of Harlem, Ballet Hispanico, and performed part-time with a New York-based folklorico group. She came to appreciate that style of dance and felt it was something that needed to be seen by wider audiences.

“Folklorico shares such a beautiful side of the Mexican culture that so many people don’t know about, and in my mind this needed to change,” she said.

Her vision? Fusing traditional dances of Mexico with what so many would consider “familiar” ballet.

“When you grow up along the Texas-Mexico border, you exist in a space that is not quite Mexican, and not quite American. It is a state of in-between-ness that is cultural, geographical, but it also speaks to the challenge of personal identity that someone like myself experiences in life,” Guajardo explained.

“I believe Ballet Nepantla invites dialogue regarding living between cultures. This is complex, but we believe the beauty, the ambiguity, and the inspiration audiences can find in artistic expression can inspire deeper reflection and conversation,” she added. “They will experience something new, beautiful, and evocative, and we hope something inspirational.”

“We are thrilled Ballet Nepantla’s Sin Fronteras is part of our 30th anniversary season. This exciting company fuses contemporary and folkorico dance to create something that is both familiar and fresh at the same time,” said Queens Theatre’s Executive Director Taryn Sacramone. “They are an up-and-coming dance company whose works focus on the immigrant experience in the U.S. They explore how so many people here, particularly right here in Queens, balance that sense of bridging cultures.”

Tickets start at $20 and are available at the Queens Theatre Box Office. Call (718) 760-0064 or visit www.queenstheatre.org for tickets and more information.

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