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NEWS | Oct. 15, 2019

Ballet Folklorico: an Airman’s culture expressed through dance

By Senior Airman Delaney Gonzales 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The colorful fabric drapes over her skin. Bountiful lace and ribbon ordains the dress, a timeless style reminiscent of her roots. It sways effortlessly with a simple movement of her wrist. To enhance the traditional design, she applies bold makeup to couple the dress’ vibrancy. As she retrieves a tube of vivid red lipstick from a small makeup bag, she comes face-to-face with the mirror. Her reflection creates a feeling of connectedness to her Mexican heritage.

As she gets ready for her big moment in a small dressing room, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Galicia Castillo, Air Combat Command A3 Operations Division command and control manager, prepares to grace the stage to share her culture with members of the Air Force in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Castillo dances and twirls on stage. The dramatic swoops of her dress and intricate footwork display the traditional style of dance originating from Jalisco, Mexico.

 “I’ve been taught how to do Mexican Folk dancing since I was 12 years old,” Castillo said. “My mother handed it down to me and now I’m sharing that gift with the Air Force, which is a huge honor.”

The Mexican folk dance, commonly known as Ballet Folklorico, is a representation of the Mexican identity.

“It’s important to me because it’s part of who we are as a people,” Castillo claimed. “We are very proud of our culture!”

Castillo’s dress was elegantly handcrafted as it is intended to embody Mexico’s rich culture and history.

“My dress is handmade,” Castillo said. “This costume design is from the region of Jalisco. In Mexico, the ruffles and the lace is typical of what they would wear in the 1800s for folk dancing and it still goes on to present day, especially during  Cinco de Mayo as well as Mexico’s Independence Day.”

Castillo explained how dancing is an integral part of her culture, creating a kinship between those who share the same heritage.

“’Vamos a bailar’-- that’s a phrase we say in Mexico, [it means] ‘lets go dancing’,” Castillo explained. “That’s how we connect as a family. ‘Vamos a bailar!’ That’s what brings us all together.”

Castillo said she believes celebrating diversity is the reason the Air Force is a strong fighting force.

“Diversity and innovation go hand-in-hand because we all bring a different vision—a different way of thinking--to the fight,” Castillo explained. “We are able to collaborate together, and share our thoughts and ideas to make things better for the Air Force.

It’s a beautiful gift that we are all here together working toward one goal, which is air power and the protection of our country,” Castillo added.

The performance brought not only a sense of closeness to her culture, but also her teammates in the Air Force.

“We are here to celebrate and celebration is a great way to build ties as a team,” Castillo concluded.