The mission of the Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company is to showcase the splendor of Mexican Folk dance and to cultivate and promote public awareness and appreciation of this rich and diverse cultural heritage.
Founded in September 2003, Grandeza Mexicana became a non-profit performing arts organization comprised of company and academy members.
With works that depict signature pride, Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company presents high-caliber dance productions that represent the rich national culture of Mexico. Backed by careful research, GMFBC’s choreography is committed to preserving the traditions and customs of Mexico’s historic past and promising present.
learn about the director
Born and raised in Morelos, Mexico, Jose Vences was first exposed to the culture and traditions of his country throughout his childhood. Daily life and experiences awakened an interest that quickly transformed into a love for the arts. By the age of 16, he was propelled to further his knowledge and preparation by enrolling in specific academies and curriculum to learn more about the culture, traditions, and the artistic aspects that would eventually lend themselves to inspire the choreographic works performed today.
In 1983, he studied dance with Jesus Parra Duje at the Universidad Autonoma de Morelos while earning a degree as an elementary school teacher. His time at the university allowed him to learn how to structure and articulate ideas as well as learning specific repertoire. Mr. Vences’ love for the arts continued to develop organically, now with a new perspective to help shape his ideas. This motivating experience was especially rewarding and was the first glimpse of something promising in the arts. It was an integral moment that supported his growth and development in dance. He was, later, honored with the opportunity to participate in a Cultural Exchange program with Kansas City, Missouri in 1984.
He later became a member of the Compania Universitaria del Centro Cultural Morelos under the direction of Raul Rubi before deciding to further his professional dance training. This moment prompted a pivotal shift in Mr. Vences’ trajectory in dance. He felt that he needed to put methodology and theory aside temporarily in order to focus on the personal love he had for the arts and funneled that into becoming a performer and experiencing the commitment and responsibility that came along with it. Being in a professional company changed the way he thought about folklorico. He learned about the development of the artist and the experience of directly performing to an audience. He was able to apply all the practice and theory from school and gain a new perspective regarding the traditional and authentic parts and how to prepare them for the stage. The teachings that this aspect of dance provided connected to the teachings learned in his schooling and made his development stronger. He attended summer classes at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1985 to further his knowledge and theory. Later, he auditioned for and was accepted with the world famous Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez. This opportunity allowed him to develop at the performance level. He continued to learn as a member of the resident company in July 1986 and later was promoted to the touring company in January 1987 where he performed throughout Europe, Mexico, Brazil and the United States.
In 1990, Mr. Vences moved to Los Angeles. This was a difficult shift because, although he was leaving Mexico, he was unable to detach from that part of his life. He felt a strong desire to find a group so he could continue to perform, but could not find anything at the level of performance that met his needs. So, he created his own and in 1992 was an original founder of Ballet Folklorico del Pacifico (now known as Pacifico Dance Company), where he served as artistic director for 9 years. It was a place he could put every piece of his knowledge and experience into and pass it onto the new generations. Eventually, the time came for him to part ways and embark on a new journey, even if that did not involve dance. However, some dancers reached out and expressed their desire to continue their own growth under his tutelage. The need that the dancers had to learn and develop with Mr. Vences was the catalyst for the creation of Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company, which officially formed in September 2003.
Mr. Vences’ approach to instruction can be very emotional work. High expectations are on his dancers, to push them to discover their true potential, at times beyond their own expectations. The work challenges his students to perform at their very best and draw from within themselves all the strength and talent ballet folklorico requires:
“I will say that this job can be difficult,” Mr. Vences explains, “because this company is made of dancers with a diversity of backgrounds- some are trained technical dancers, others have a more organic talent. My expectations for each of them are the same: to perform at their personal best. I provide them with strategies, with the knowledge that has been taught to me throughout my career, to empower them. It is an emotional experience. I try to connect with my dancers, through metaphors and personification, and even jokes, to draw connections between what I am expecting in the studio and their own personal experiences. Sometimes this process challenges them to change their concept of dance, a new relationship between movement, intentions, emotion, and the music. More than anything, I would say that I demand commitment, because I believe that where there is genuine intention, there is a good result.”
BOard of directors
Isaac Villarreal – President
Benny Vasquez – Vice President
Patricia Onofre – Treasurer
Maria Hernandez Mercado – Executive Secretary
Alexandra Mora – Secretary
Hector Vargas – Community Liaison
Leticia Moreno – Sponsorship