Baile Folklorico

Baile folklórico, literally "folk dance" in Spanish, is a collective term for traditional Latin American dances that emphasize local folk culture. Each region in Mexico, the Southwestern United States and Central American countries is known for a handful of locally characteristic dances.



The state of Jalisco, for example, is especially known for its jarabe, son and el baile de los sonajeros which accompany its famous mariachi. The state of Nuevo Leon, with its great European influence, is known for its "polka" and "shotis." The state of Guerrero is known for its sintesis and tixtla. Michoacán is known for its huetamo and “Historia del Traje de la Mujer Michoacana,” a dance which depicts a local folktale Alegria. 1995. . Though the dances differ from region to region, the basic steps and style of dance are similar. Traditional bailes are characterized by a basic set of steps called zapateadas which involve percussive heel-stomping.


Costumes in the southwest United States are characterized by denim and western shirts while costumes of the Federal District of Mexico reflect a stronger traditional Spanish influence and those of the Yucatán reflect indigenous traditions. In the folk dances of Northern Mexico, men generally wear black trousers, accented with a red tie and belt and a black wide-brimmed hat. Women wear brightly colored ruffled skirts trimmed with ribbons whose colors are local signifiers, shoes with heavy clog-like heels and ornate hair pieces .


Amalia Hernandez pioneered baile folklorico in the 1950s with her establishment of and leadership of the Ballet Folklorico Mexico. Additionally, she founded a school in Mexico City for the study and practice of classical and folkloric dance techniques.

Prior to the explosion in popularity among student and community groups, bailes folklóricos were (and currently are) performed as a part of large parties or community events. The mariachi musicians generally stand in a line at the back of the performance space and perform without written musical notation, while the dancers perform in couples in front of the mariachis.

Central America

Central America has many bailes Folkloricos. One typical dance from Costa Rica is the Punto Guanacasteco.


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  • Loeffler, Jack. La Música de los Viejitos: Hispano Folk Music of the Rio Grande del Norte. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999.
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