Our History & Mission
Roy Lozano’s Ballet Folklórico de Texas (RLBFT) was founded in 1982 by Roy Lozano, a second-generation Mexican-American who devoted his life performing, researching and staging folk dances representing Mexico’s vast cultures and traditions.
Born in Alice, Texas, Lozano traveled throughout Mexico each summer to watch his father play professional baseball in the Mexican league. But it was the regional music and dance, more than baseball that Lozano enjoyed. Lozano began folklórico dance classes at the age of fifteen and continued his dancing while studying biology at the University of Texas. He helped to start the UT Ballet Folklórico troupe in 1975 as a performing outlet for Hispanic students interested in folk dance.
Starting the Company
At first, he supported himself as a waiter and financed the company’s wardrobes from his tips and savings account. In founding his company, he made it his commitment to create a program of high quality dance training as well as to develop a vehicle which provided dance history and performance possibilities for Austin’s and Texas’ youth. Lozano started the School of dance as a way to share his knowledge with not only Mexican American children, but also with children of all ethnicities. Today the School of Dance is filled to capacity, providing opportunities to children and youth to learn about the rich cultural heritage of Texas’ closest neighbor.
By 1987 Lozano had created a Children’s Performing Company, followed by the Junior Company. A number of the members of the professional company began in the School of Dance. Lozano’s companies and its associated school had become cultural representatives of Austin’s Hispanic community. Over the years, the company grew steadily, expanding both its performance schedule and community-outreach programs.
Roy Lozano died early on March 4, 1994, just 10 days after his 40th birthday.
His Vision lives on
Since Lozano’s death, the company has continued his commitment to quality, authentic ballet folklórico. Named by Lozano as his successor, Jesús “Chuy” Chacón has served as the Artistic Director for the past 12 years. Under his leadership the company has continued to flourish.
Each year, Chacón travels to Mexico to study with dance masters to learn new regions and choreography. He shares the knowledge with not only RLBFT, but also with other dance troupes in Austin and the state. Chacón is a member of the ANMDPM(National Association of Popular Mexicana Dance Instructors) in Mexico, and has been asked to serve as their liaison in the United States.
Because of his expertise, Chacón is in great demand as a judge at competitions around Texas. His expertise and commitment to excellent performances has resulted in an invitation to the company to dance in Monterey, Mexico in June 2006 for the 25th anniversary of Ballet Folklórico Magesterial. Only the best companies in Mexico are invited and it is an honor to be included in this prestigious group. Additionally, RLBFT has recently received an invitation to dance in Saltillo, Mexico in 2007.
Unlike other companies, RLBFT does not expect its dancers to buy their own costumes. Costumes, props and accessories are provided by the company for each performance. This ensures that all professional dancers, regardless of economic status, can participate. RLBFT has an incredible archive of regional costumes, for adults and children. Each year new costumes are added.
RLBFT also is committed to expanding the genre of ballet folklórico in Texas by assisting other groups to form and prosper, such as the Panamanian, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan companies. Some of the assistance includes providing free or low-rent studio space sharing costumes and inviting them to perform at Noche de folklór, thus expanding their audience base. During its long history, RLBFT has performed for dignitaries as well as citizens throughout Texas.
Each year, RLBFT offers many opportunities to learn about the beauty of Mexican Ballet folklórico—from its low-cost series for the school children of Central Texas to its free performance each August at Zilker Hillside Theater, to free and reduced performances for other non-profits in the area. Lozano’s commitment is still reflected throughout the entire organization as today, the company is recognized as one of Texas’ leading ballet folklórico troupes, noted for its talented performers, detailed costumes and varied, authentic repertoire.
In 2005 RLBFT received the Aguila Award for Community Service.