Two Mexican folk dance festivals coming to Fresno area this weekend

Valley fans of traditional Mexican folk dance have two festivals this weekend that will celebrate the rich cultural heritage of ballet folklorico.

Danzantes Unidos Festival (United Dancers) takes place Friday to Sunday, while El Festival de los Danzantes (The Festival of the Dancers) is happening Saturday and Sunday. Danzantes Unidos will be hosted at Clovis West High School, while El Festival will be at Fresno State.

Folklorico is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of Mexican folk dances that blend elements of indigenous, African and Euorpean heritage.

Both festivals follow the same concept: Workshops for dancers taught by folklorico maestros, followed by showcase concerts. The goal in both is for participants to learn more about dance history, culture and technique.

More than 1,100 dancers, children to adults, are expected to attend Danzantes Unidos, now in its 36th year. Most are from California but will perform dances from a variety of regions in Mexico. Some states with the most popular folklorico dances include Veracruz, Oaxaca and Jalisco.

El Festival de los Danzantes, hosted by Fresno State’s student folkloric dance troupe Los Danzantes de Aztlan, will feature several instructors from Mexico and California, including internationally acclaimed maestra Silvia Lozano.

Dazantes Unidos has a variety of activities open to the public, including three concerts plus a children’s showcase; a market with Mexican and folkloric goods and a multimedia art exhibit. Tickets for the concerts are $15 at the door; the children’s showcase is free. For a full schedule of events, visit danzantes.org.

Public highlights at El Festival de los Danzantes include the main gala concert at 7 p.m. Saturday and the showcase concert at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. To buy tickets, visit danzantesdeaztlan.org.