The Danzantes Unidos Festival returns to Fresno to break folklorico dancing world record
Mexican folk dancers will make a colorful entrance into town this weekend as the annual Danzantes Unidos Festival returns to Fresno, including an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for Most Folklorico Dancers Dancing.
“It is the largest gathering of Mexican folk dancers anywhere, both sides of the border,” said Maria Colmenarez, president of Danzantes Unidos de California.
The three-day celebration will feature showcase concerts at Warnors Theatre, workshops, a folklorico marketplace and social events at several locations in Fresno and Clovis. Occurring annually since 1979, this year’s festival theme is “Honoring our past, creating our future.”
Drawing dancers from all over California and states such as Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon, the festival’s co-director Julio Bustos said the attention is “good for the cultural reputation of the city.”
“This weekend, the eyes of the world will turn to Fresno, whether it’s because of this event or because of the Guinness World Record,” Bustos said. “I think it’s positive for the city when that happens.”
The idea for setting a world record has been circulating for the past few years, but this year it may become a reality. The current record is held by the Mariachi and Charreria Festival, which featured 457 dancers in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“Every year, we bring together over 1,000 dancers,” Colmenarez said. “We thought, well, that’s a piece of cake, we can do that.”
Rehearsals for the Jalisco-costumed, eight-minute dance were throughout the state during March, as well as online tutorials. Colmenarez said, so far, over, 700 dancers are registered for the attempt that will take place Sunday at Clovis West High School.
Yet, the world record attempt is just one element of the festival. With over 1,300 dancers registered for workshops, Colmenarez said the festival offers the prime opportunity for networking within the Mexican folk dancing community and a way to “validate each other’s work.”
“The primary directive is for us to get together once a year, at least, in the united celebration to network and to plan collaborations throughout the year,” Colmenarez said. “The festival itself is when everyone comes together to meet new people and again greet old friends and really just celebrate.”
Bustos, who has been involved in the festival since 1986, said it is popular because it treats all dancers with equality and respect through its cultural celebration, setting it apart from other competitions.
“The dancers that just started less than a year ago to the dancers that have been dancing more than 40 years, everyone is on the same stage, on the same level,” he said.
For more information on the weekend’s event schedule visit www.danzantes.org.