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Meet Nadia Arambula of Ballet Folklorico El Tapatio and De San Dieguito

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nadia Arambula.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Nadia. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Eighteen years ago, I came to this country pursuing my dream, that dream was to move to another country to share my Mexican culture through my Folklorico dance. I started to dance the Mexican traditional Folklore since I was five years old, I used to hear my mom say that when I was little, I usually wore her long skirts and high heels to dance the music she used to listen. Dance is in my genes, life has not been easy for me, but even in the middle of the storms, I’ve been dancing, not even the most painful moment in my life stopped me from dance. With this said, I have been dancing for thirty-four years, and for the last twenty years, I have been sharing this talent as a teacher.

I remember my first year in this country, looking for the opportunity for my dream to be manifested. The opportunity appeared, I knocked on the door of the community center of City Heights, but unfortunately, I was not able to start teaching my Folklorico dance there. I didn’t begin to teach there, but that place connected me to the place I started to make my dream a reality! Two days after I went to the community center asking for the opportunity to teach, a person went to that place asking for a dance Folklorico instructor. He knew a group of dancers that were looking for a dance instructor at the Holy Trinity Church, so the director of the community center gave my contact information to that person. He contacted me, I immediately began to teach those group of kids; I taught them for about five years, and I named that group “Ballet Folklorico El Tapatio”. I gave it this name because when I was about sixteen years old I decided to be a dance instructor. I imagined having my own group which I would name “El Tapatio”. During these five years, I also taught in two more places, one was at Morse High School and the other at Lemon Grove in a sports center, both places were here in San Diego.

Difficult moments came into my life, these moments change the course of my life. Moving from San Diego to Oakland, and from Oakland to my city in Mexico.

When I was finally able to come back to the USA, I tried to gather the dancers I had left. Unfortunately, it was not possible. The years had passed and my former dancers had either gone to college or they weren’t interested in Folklorico dance anymore. It was painful for me to realize that I will never have again the same dancers I taught. Once again, I had nothing but my dream and my hope, but that was enough for me to start knocking on doors for the opportunity to again form my “Ballet Folklorico El Tapatio” group.

One of my former dancers’ mom had a ballroom. She offered me the basement as a place to start teaching Folklorico dance again. I was so excited for that opportunity, and of course, I took it! I began teaching in that basement to six little girls, one of these girls was my daughter. We practiced there for about two months and then, a bigger Blessing came into my life. In 2008, I had the opportunity to move my Ballet Folklorico group from that basement, into Bayside Community Center, in Linda Vista! In Bayside, “El Tapatio” steadily began to grow, we were about ten dancers when we first moved there, and by 2010 “Ballet Folklorico El Tapatio” had grown to forty dancers, not only kids but also youth, and young adults! By that time, we were performing at different places around San Diego County. For example community fairs, festivals, schools, churches, hospitals, senior citizens’ centers, and also in TV news segments.

My dream was flourished and there was more to come. In 2014, I got the invitation to start a dance program at the senior and community center at Encinitas! so I accepted, and we named this program “Ballet Folklorico De San Dieguito” which today is formed by thirty dancers from ages 6-17 years old. I also volunteer my time as the instructor of the Ballet Folklorico FAMA at The University of San Diego. The three groups together, we continue to share the Mexican Folklorico and Traditional Dance to every place we are invited to perform throughout San Diego County. Together we are about 80 dancers from 6-28 years old.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been easy for me to achieve what I do now. When I was finally living the beginning of my dream, a hard time came in my life, that time makes me move to Oakland, California. By that time I had my own family, my daughter was nine months old. The hardest part of moving to Oakland was that I had to leave my groups. Basically, I had to renounce my dance groups, but not my dream.

In Oakland, I tried to teach my Folklorico dance, but I couldn’t at the time. So I decided to go to school and get my high school diploma, and I did it. I also took some other educational classes during my three years in Oakland.

Again, yet another difficult time happened. So we moved back to San Diego, and in the middle of that difficult time, a tragedy seemed to come in my life, it was about my mom. She was suffering from cancer for eighteen years. In that moment when I just moved back from Oakland to San Diego, I received a call from my brother in Mexico. He told me that my mom was at the hospital, and perhaps that would be her time. That call made me take the decision to go back to my city in Mexico and be with my mom and my family. I wanted to be there with my family through that hard moment. That moment still seems to me like a nightmare. While I was losing my mom in Mexico, at the same time I was losing my relationship with my daughter’s father that lasted more than ten years.

After three months of my arriving in Mexico, my mom passed away. Even though these three months were painful, I am thankful because I had the opportunity to be with my mom and celebrate my birthday with her, and also Mothers Day.
After my mom died, I started to think about how I would resume my life back in the USA and take back the life I had left before I went to Mexico. It wasn’t easy for me to come back to this country, but I finally did it. I was so thankful for being in the USA again, and with that feeling of gratitude and hope as well, I wanted to start following my dream once again.

Ballet Folklorico El Tapatio and De San Dieguito – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am the founder and director of Ballet Folklorico El Tapatio and De San Dieguito. El Tapatio is a dance ensemble that was created in 2000 and formally established in 2008. Ballet Folklorico De San Dieguito was established in 2014 and is a non-profit program of Encinitas Friends of the Arts / City of Encinitas Arts Division. My groups are comprised of children and youth aged six and older from all around San Diego County. The program instills discipline, professionalism, and enthusiasm in the students while teaching self-esteem and life skills to empower our students in their future endeavors. The mission of Ballet Folklorico El Tapatio and De San Dieguito is to promote the traditional dances and culture of Mexico with passion and love. The group’s goal is to create a joyful and colorful experience during our performances to the delight of our audience!
The dance ensemble has had a growing presence in San Diego County. Performances include community fairs and festivals such as: the San Diego county fair, local schools, churches, senior citizens’ centers, museums, hospitals, as a special guests for other organizations such as The San Diego International Youth Arts Festival, The International Kids Film Festival, on TV and news segments, and more recently at Petco Park for the World Baseball Classic.

I am proud of the collaboration and commitment of dancers and parents. As a group, we all cooperate and work hard in order to present quality and originality in every performance that we do.

What distinguishes Ballet Folklorico El Tapatio and De San Dieguito is that it does not just develop the dancer, it develops the person, the child, the individual, and their parents. It instills confidence, leadership, and a strong work ethic in the youth. It develops comradery and teamwork among the dancers. It develops commitment and hands-on-involvement from the parents to support the program. BFET and BFDS are more than a dance class; the program develops the positive qualities and characteristics in tomorrow’s leaders in our communities.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
For me, success has to do with the discovery of my purpose in life, has to do with clarity of the vision, and following that vision with perseverance, and most importantly, with Faith. I challenge myself in everything I do, in order to persuade the excellence. I serve others with my best I have, that is my satisfaction.

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