"With sincere appreciation for Gloria Rodriguez for 21 years of going above and beyond the roles of choreographer…director…teacher…role model. You’ve been all these things and more as you’ve dedicated countless hours to your dancers both professionally and personally. From carwashes and midnight costume sewing to bringing authentic Mexican folkloric tradition to our community, your legacy can neither be measured nor adequately repaid. On behalf of all whom you’ve taught and inspired, we are eternally grateful."
Arts & Education
Bringing The Arts to Schools:
Roping star, James Barrera, and Folklorico Latino de Woodland artistic director, Gloria Rodriguez, have a long history of bringing their exciting live shows and workshops to schools throughout California. Throughout the course of their careers, they have conducted thousands of school performances. They have entertained and educated students at elementary, middle school, high school and university levels.
Artistic Scholarship Program:
One of Barrera's proudest accomplishments is his part in establishing the Marina Ramirez Artistic Scholarship program. The program was renamed after the late Marina Ramirez, one of the founding members and former FLDW board president. Ramirez died of brain cancer in 2004. Originally entitled the Folklorico Latino de Woodland Artistic Scholarship program, it was established by the Folklorico Guild in 1989, this trust fund is separate from other Folklorico Latino activities. The creators of this scholarship were Helena Ochoa, Armando Sanchez and Barrera. Ochoa and Sanchez are both former board presidents. This program's end goal is to encourage participants to graduate from high school and go on to college.
This program is assisting dozens of college students to pursue their studies whether at Yuba College; American River College; Sacramento City College; University of California, Davis; California State University, Sacramento; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of California, Santa Cruz; the Oakland College of the Arts; and UC Berkeley. As of 2007, the Folkloric guild has awarded over 32 scholarships at various levels. The scholarship program awards have ranged from $100 to over $3,000 since the program inception.
On Saturday, October 29th, the Yolo County Councilio honored the late Marina Ramirez with a lifetime achievement award. Her daughter, Teresa Ramirez, accepted a plaque at the Waite Hall at the Yolo County Fairgrounds in Woodland, California. Marina Ramirez was an extraordinary woman who touched the lives of many people through her work with the Folklorico Latino de Woodland. As one of the troupe founders, multi-time board president, wardrobe mistress and parent liaison - she was truly the heart and soul of FLdW. When she passed away from brain cancer in in 2004, it left a huge hole in the organization. But her presence is still felt to this day. Her legacy continues to touch upcoming generations of children as they partake in the troupe classes and performances. If you catch one of the troupe's shows, take a close look at the wardrobe the dancers are wearing. One of those costumes could be Ramirez's creations. She created more than 300 making up the FLdW wordrobe. She also made costumes for the UC Davis troupe Danzantes de Alma and for UC Santa Barbara's Raices de mi Tierra.
"It does feel good to have my dancers recognized for their hard work," said Barrera, manager of the Fldw. "We've been so busy rebuilding the group with some of our older dancers moving on. Its really been artistic director Gloria Rodriguez and dancers Sarita Rodriguez, Maggie Jimenez, Erika Monroy, Jovanna Radillo and Jazmine Gonzales that covered many of the troupe performances. It's their stage presence, footwork and love for their craft that makes it work. We also have a bunch of youngsters coming up that are excited and want to show their stuff. And that's what makes our dances come alive on stage. That makes this award all the sweeter. It just goes to show that the community does recognize our craft and our art."
Sacramento Magazine - 2007 Best of Sacramento Award:
With yet another notch in their belt, the Folklorico Latino de Woodland was recently chosen to receive a 2007 Best of Sacramento Award. The troupe was selected by the editors of Sacramento magazine based on their quality of dance presentations, extensive performance history and showmanship.
Recruited by his aunt and founder of FLDW, the late Marina Ramirez, Barrera has been the promoter and manager of FLDW since 1988. Many credit his "out-of-the-box" promotional strategies for the troupe's success. This includes leading the FLDW into its first successful competition in 1991 to perform at the famed San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. Since then, the group ultimately won four appearances in this event. This would become the platform upon which Barrera built the FLDW reputation. He also successfully wrote, obtained and managed grants ranging from $500 to $10,000 from organizations such as Mervyn's, Target, the Yolo County Arts Council, The Sacramento Bee and the California Arts Council.
He markets the troupe throughout Northern California, the Central Valley and the Bay Area. This entails writing all press releases, information sheets, grant proposals and letters. He negotiates terms for upcoming performances and specifies technical needs for stage areas. Barrera also conducts interviews and coordinate photo/video shoots with the media. He works with board members to develop major events, workshops and the artistic scholarship program. On occasion, he conducts workshops in conducting presentations, floreo de riata (trick roping) and whip cracking techniques.
Manager and Promoter of the Folklorico Latino de Woodland, James Barrera:
Barrera, has conducted interactive workshops covering the history of the Western Arena arts such as trick roping and whipcracking. He gives audience a rare first-hand chance to learn about these art forms created here on the American continent. He covers the importance of the Mexican charro in teaching Anglos about raising cattle, and their indelible influence on the image and myth of the American cowboy.
The Folklorico Latino de Woodland dancers performs traditional Mexican dances from the states of Jalisco, Vera-Cruz and other regions. The dancers provide instruction on cultural influences, costumes and props during the demo. This cultural awareness performance engages young minds and takes them on a fascinating journey through the history, culture, costumes and the choreography of Mexican folkdance.
Folklorico Latino de Woodland:
This Yolo County-based Mexican folkdance group was created in 1986 as a focal point for parents to involve their children in an activity, which would instill pride and cultivate an awareness of the Hispanic culture. Folklorico Latino was the first resident Arts Company of the (refurbished) historic Woodland Opera House. The troupe was founded by the late Marina Ramirez, Helena Ochoa and James Harvey-Keith. But the troupe quickly outgrew the Opera House facilities. Within four years, the local dance legend built an impressive list of credits: four-time winner and participant of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival; nine-time winner of the Sacramento Bee Performing Arts grant; and five-time winner of the Yobo County Community Partnership grant. The Folklorico Latino has also won a Multi-cultural Grant from the California Arts Council.
Since it's inception, the organization, co-sponsored by Woodland Parks and Recreation has had more than 650 children, teenagers and young adults participate in its program. Nobody had a clue as to how quickly this troupe would grow both in size and reputation. With literally hundreds of performances under their belts, the dancers have been showcased on the main Stage in Sacramento's "Festival de la Familia," the 1987, 1996 and 2004 California State Fair, KXTV Channel 10's "Basic Colors," KCRA Channel 3's "De Colores" program, and KVIE Channel 6's "Sacramento Dances" program.
Over the years, individual Fldw performers have worked with noted artists such as Linda Rondstadt, the late Juan Zaisar, World Champion trick and fancy roper Tomas Garcilazo, not to mention Marachi Vargas and Marachi Camperos de Nati Cano. And the list just continues to grow.
Artistic Director /Choreographer/Stage Mom and Dancer, Gloria Rodriguez:
Gloria Rodriguez has been teaching Mexican folkdance since she was 14-years-old. She has worked under the guidance of folkloric talents such as Ruben Montoya, Elena Robles, Maria Luisa Colmenarez-Garcia, and Rudy Garcia. Rodriguez is also the arts director for the McClatchy High School dance troupe and works with numerous artists in the project: Story telling thru the arts. She also has worked with many groups in Sacramento, Davis and Solano County, such as Raices de mi Tierra, Instituto Mazatlan Bellas Artes(IMBA) Grupo Folklorico Mizoc, Grupo Folkorico Mizoc Infantil, Folklor Mexicano de Sacramento, Danzantes del Alma de UC Davis, Azlan de Solano, Congreso de Grupos Folkloricos de Sacramento and, of coarse, Folklorico Latino de Woodland (FLDW).
Rodriguez has been the artistic director for the Folklorico Latino de Woodland since 1989. The troupe has long been considered one of California’s brightest folklore dance entities. This year, the FLDW will celebrate their 21st Annual showcase at the Woodland Opera House on November 17, 2007, and present to the community pride, footwork, choreography and dances from many states of Mexico. Maestra Glo enjoys working with the FLDW and will remain their Maestra for as long as they want her.