History and Purpose
Ballet Nepantla originated from a series of pláticas between founders Andrea Guajardo and Martín Rodríguez, two artists whose early professional identities emerged from distinct genres: Andrea from classical ballet and contemporary dance, and Martin from traditional Mexican folklórico. They envisioned a new form of expression that fused the two modalities, and they envisioned an aesthetic that would speak to the historical, cultural, and social realities of a broader narrative of being Mexican, Mexican American, immigrant, and trans-cultural.
Drawing inspiration from Gloria Anzaldúa’s borderlands theory, Andrea and Martín imagined they could create performances that spoke to the “in-between” qualities of being from both sides of the borderland. They found the idea of Nepantla, a Nahuatl term of the indigenous people of Mexico. Nepantla provides a historical, intellectual, and artistic framework through which to explore the “in-between” spaces of history and culture by exploring new artistic expression that fuses different traditions on stage. Thus, Ballet Nepantla was born in January 2017.
To launch the work, Andrea and Martín recruited dancers who came from both worlds: contemporary and folklórico. They choreographed original pieces and spent the following months building their inaugural show, “Sin Fronteras.” They forged an artistic partnership with Felipe Fournier, a gifted musician who found inspiration in the Nepantla vision. Felipe recruited an ensemble of talented musicians and arranged traditional music that aligned with the spirit and vibe of Ballet Nepantla.
Eight months later, Ballet Nepantla premiered "Sin Fronteras" at the Queens Theatre in Queens, New York, on el diez y seis de septiembre, 2017. Ballet Nepantla received favorable media response for its inaugural show. NBC New York addressed the historical and social purpose inherent in “Sin Fronteras,” when journalist Reynaldo Leanos wrote that Andrea Guajardo: “hopes that every time Nepantla performs, the show will counter unflattering narratives about Mexican and Mexican-American communities. She hopes the beauty of the dance will be like a bridge that connects people who are in this--Nepantla--this "in between" of worlds and spaces."
NBC News, NY, September 15, 2017, Reynaldo Leanos, Jr., “Ballet Nepantla fuses Ballet and Folklorico, from Rio Grande to NYC”