McLane High School sets its mark

FRESNO -- The 2010 version of the High School Show Offs at Roosevelt High School had a little bit of everything for the folkloric dance enthusiast.

Ballet Folklórico Grupo Nahualli of Clovis High School showed off Spanish flamenco dances, a first for the event.

Clovis West High School's Águilas de Oro boasted a cast of seemingly thousands during its 'Estampa de Mi Tierra' presentation.

Selma High School's Los Paisanos, the state's oldest high school Mexican folkloric dance group, presented the colorful dances from Nayarit.

Almas Danzantes de McLane High School, which was started in 2008, made sure it was not overlooked in a field that included many, more-established dance teams.

"All the schools have a chance to compete," said McLane freshman Carlos Luciano, 14, before joining his teammates on the Roosevelt High School theater stage last Saturday night.

In front of about 1,200 spectators, Luciano and company performed dances from Jalisco.

For Luciano, folkloric dancing is not new. He has performed since he was 7 years old and is part of the community dance group Grupo Folklórico Baja California Sur.

Alejandra Rodríguez, a 16-year-old sophomore, is in her second year with Almas Danzantes.

"Yes, we can dance as well as the other groups," said Rodríguez, who prefers the high-stepping calabaceado dances over the Jalisco numbers that requires the girls to move around in heavy skirts.

Rosa Rubio, a Spanish teacher at McLane who was given the task of forming the dance program, is happy with her students.

"It was difficult at first because I didn't have any students with experience," said Rubio, who has performed with the community group Teocalli.

The group has grown from nine students to 15 students. Rubio had a class session for the dancers last year where they earned credits, but this year budget cuts have made the class an afterschool activity with no credits.

"I'm very strict," said Rubio. "All the GPAs have to be pretty high. They like to get recognized (on campus), and it makes them feel like they are a part of the school."

This year's event was moved from the 400-seat Fresno Veterans' Auditorium to Roosevelt, which has about 2,000 seats.

Other schools that performed, and their dances, were: Ballet Folklórico Oro de México made up of Granite Hills, Porterville and Monache high schools (corridos); Ballet Folklórico de Clovis East (calabaceados); Los Danzantes de Roosevelt (huasteca tamaulipeca); Sunnyside High School Folklórico (Veracruz); Tlaloc of Central High (Coahuila); and, Fresno High School Folklórico (Jalisco).