Folklórico Dance Instructors

Three master instructors will lead the three levels of dance students through technique and choreography during the Festival Workshops.

Maria Luisa Colmenares

Marial Luisa ColmenaresMaria Luisa Colmenarez, Mexican Folk Dancer/Artist, has served as Artistic Director for Grupo Folklorico Mizoc de Sacramento, Danzantes del Alma de UC Davis, Folklorico Latino de Woodland, Los Lupenos and Alegria de San Jose. She has appeared as a performer in six seasons of the SF Ethnic Dance Festival. Performance highlights include touring with Linda Ronstadt’s Mas Canciones, the pro-omnibus performance in Candlestick Park for Pope John Paul II and the Ethnic Dance Festival of Hawaii.

She is a National Endowment for the Arts Folk Arts grant recipient, former California Arts Council, Artist-in-Residence and CAC Dance Grant Panelist. She has been a member of the Asociacion Nacional de Grupos Folkloricos (ANGF) since 1974 and has served as a California Representative and as Co-Director for the international ANGF Conference XVI in Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico and Conference XXXV in Tepic, Nayarit.

Ms. Colmenarez has been a multi-cultural dance specialist in the Conservatory of American Musical Theater of San Jose and, Statewide Coordinator for Danzantes Unidos’ Folklorico-On-Wheels Project and a panelist for the prestigious San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Auditions. She is a member of the National Association for Latinos in Arts and Culture (NALAC) and has attended their Leadership Institute in 2001 & 2003 and represented the folklorico dance community at the NALAC Summit in Florida in 2004. For over twelve years, she served as a faculty member of the Las Cruces International Mariachi Festival in New Mexico and currently serves as a folklorico consultant for companies throughout California. She has been a member of the dance faculty for the San Jose Mariachi Festival Conference since 2005.

Ms. Colmenarez is also the current president of the federal nonprofit, Danzantes Unidos de California, which yearly convenes the largest celebration of folklorico dancers in the world. As a visual artist, she has received various awards and honorable mention for her work in ceramic, glass and bronze. She is mother to budding young artists Luis Xavier and Diana Victoria and partner/wife to the wickedly handsome physicist/inventor/folklorico dancer/musician and author–Rudy F. Garcia.

Jose Tena

Jose TenaHistory

Jose Tena arrived to Las Cruces from Chihuahua to visit his sister in the summer of 1978. Little did he know that the ‘visit’ would keep him in Las Cruces for the next thirty years. In September of that year Jose established the Ballet Folklorico de la Tierra Del Encanto in conjunction with NMSU Chicano Program and since then he has been teaching, sharing, and promoting ballet folklorico in the USA.

Mr. Tena is a graduate from the “Escuela Superior de Danza” in Chihuahua where he was prepared to teach the rich culture and traditions of Mexican folklore through dance. Over the years he has worked with nearly every school in the Las Cruces School District and surrounding communities; from Sunland Park to Espanola and from Hobbs to Farmington. Mr. Tena’s vision and that of his dance members has been to promote and rescue traditions from the state of New Mexico by researching and reinstating dances that were typical in New Mexico during the Colonial times by performing them and teaching them to everyone willing to learn them.


Mr. Tena and Ballet Folklorico de la Tierra del Encanto have been recipients of numerous recognitions for their work at State, National and International levels. Recently they received the Humanitarian Award from the Hispano Chambers of Commerce of Las Cruces for their contribution to the community, the Outstanding Performance recognition from President Clinton during Mr. Clinton’s visit to Las Cruces, and the Dona Ana Historical Society Award for preserving our culture and history through dance. Mr. Tena and his group have also been recognized for several years by New Mexico State University for “Outstanding Hispanic Community Service” by The Dona Ana Arts Council for their community service. As testament to his many contributions to his community, the Dance Program at NMSU has dedicated a dance classroom at the Student Activity Center—the “Jose Tena Studio” where he teaches every semester. Mr. Tena was proclaimed “Grand Marshall” in 2008 by the City of Las Cruces, a very well deserved honor from the people of Las Cruces.

Mr. Tena was a founding supporter of the Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference where he served as a board member and Dance Director of the folklorico workshops. His dance company members also assisted all of the Folkorico Dance Instructors in teaching the workshops. He was the founding dance workshop director for the Mariachi Conference de Tucson, AZ and was the founding dance workshop director for the Mariachi Conference de San Jose, CA.

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