By Anna Alejo

DENVER (CBS4)– They graced international stages as principal soloists for Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. Now they share their love of dance with the Denver community.

(credit: ArtistiCO)

Jose “Chepe” Rosales grew up in Denver and was the first U.S.-born dancer to earn the role of “El Venado” in the history of the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez. He has performed in many international dance festivals, toured the world and danced in more than 400 shows annually throughout Mexico.

In Mexico City, Rosales met dancer Alfonso “Poncho” Meraza. Meraza maintained his position as a Principal Soloist for 9 years, performing weekly at the historic Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and touring worldwide. He moved to Denver in 2019 after marrying the love of his life and ArtistiCO co-founder, Rosales.

Rosales and Meraza have just opened a new studio at 6th and Inca and want to use ArtistiCO as a platform offering a safe and inclusive space for artists to showcase their talents.

Rosales said, “As an LGBTQ member as a first-generation LatinX, as a son to an immigrant, I use this platform to give voice to the community.”

Staying true to an art form and building a business while keeping tuition for dance classes affordable to have the broadest impact – is not easy, but Meraza said the Denver community has supported their vision with warmth. ArtistiCO offers ballet, jazz, Folklorico, Latin dance as well as acting and aims to fuse and strengthen Latin dance. The founders’ greatest satisfaction comes from seeing the way youngsters grow and connect to their culture through dance.

(credit: ArtistiCO)

Meraza said, “We are giving them that teaching of discipline, and passion, and respect that we must have among all.”

ArtistiCO connected to audiences during the challenges of the pandemic with a virtual performance at Cheesman Park – an iconic moment for the young company. Rosales said, “We had drones and we had all the works and it just really captured a beautiful moment within history. When we look back in ten years, we’re gonna say that was a historical moment in the arts community.”

Marcia Romero has been a dancer in Denver for more than 20 years and is a board member and company dancer with ArtistiCO. Romero and Rosales grew up dancing with Fiesta Colorado. Romero said, “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our dance teacher Jeannette Trujillo Lucero here in Colorado that really elevated the work that we do.”

As they prepare to wow audiences this weekend at the Cinco de Mayo festivities at Civic Center Park, Romero said, “It’s all about creating joy.  Knowing that you bring joy to people’s lives because it really is a joyous time because you hear the music and you see the dancing and people can’t help but smile.”

(credit: ArtistiCO)

Rosales adds, “During Cinco de Mayo support Latinx artists, support Latinx businesses, go and eat at your favorite Mexican restaurant because that’s what it’s about – it’s about supporting Latinx culture.”

Learn more about ArtistiCO at https://www.artisticodance.org/

Anna Alejo