Francisco Verdín has been an instructor of Mexican folk dance for 30 years. He was first born in state of Nayarit in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 14. He grew up dancing and learning dance informally from his family. His grandparents participated in the traditional dances in his hometown celebrating the patron saints and other holidays and other family members were musicians. When he moved the U.S. he began learning Mexican regional folk dances under different teachers, which eventually led him back to Mexico to learn from the well-known teachers in different parts of the country.
In 1982 he joined Ballet Folklorico Ollin, which first began in 1972 by Virginia Dieddiker. The dance troupe began and is still based in the San Fernando Valley, but has performed throughout Los Angeles and offers educational programs in LAUSD schools and LA libraries. Franscisco sees the role dance can play in terms of pushing students away from gangs and creating a foundation for attending college, and the role education can play in creating respect for the folk music and dance.
Over it’s 40 plus years in existence the Ballet Folklorico Ollin has had many accomplishments, including being selected as the dance troupe to represent Mexico in the Olympics held in Los Angeles in 1984, after competing with hundreds of groups. They toured with Natividad Cano and Los Camperos for 25 years and have created more access for traditional Mexican folk dance and music in theatres across the country.
They continue to teach youth and adults of all ages, and perform regularly including in an annual show at the Ford Amphitheatre.
The productions I help present at The Ford Theatres in Hollywood are different every year. With Ballet Folklorico Ollin, I myself as a producer have created programming for Retablos de Mexico. Within its trajectory, you can find regional folk music from Jalisco, Veracruz, and Puebla. Every year it's different. This year, we celebrate women. We are collaborating with Susy Garcia's mariachi group Las Colibrí. They are celebrating 10 years together, but we are also celebrating the 25th year anniversary of Mariachi Reina de Los Angeles. They are the first all-women mariachi group formed in the U.S. - Francisco Verdín