Ballet Folklórico Workshop Instructors
and 2022 Dance Competition Judges

Meet our 2022 talented Ballet Folklórico Workshop Instructors and dance competition judges, José Tena and Maria Luisa Colmenarez

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José Tena

Internationally acclaimed Folklórico dancer and instructor, José Tena from Las Cruces, New Mexico has been dancing for more than four decades on his forever-young legs and has set thousands more in motion with his dance troupe of 30 years, Ballet Folklórico Tierra del Encanto. 

He has been the recipient of several coveted honors and supporting grants for his outstanding contribution to the arts and has been the subject of a bilingual children’s book, The Man Who Set the Town Dancing, by Candice Stanford. Jose Tena not only set his town dancing, but has also traveled from coast-to-coast, from Washington D.C. and Boston, MA., to Fresno and Sacramento, CA, giving Folklorico workshops. He founded the folklorico workshops at the annual Las Cruces International Mariachi Festival and at the San Jose International Mariachi Conference. He has served on the board of directors and as a conference director multiple times for the Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folkloricos, and until recently served as their National Advisor.

Maestro Jose Tena was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and began dancing at the early age of eight years-old. When he and his family migrated to New Mexico, he began to teach folklorico at New Mexico State University where he continues to teach a class, and also directs the Folklorico group. 

Since 1983, Maestro Tena formed part of the Danzantes Unidos family, teaching Chihuahua at that year’s festival.

He has had the honor, and what he describes as “precious memories,” to learn from Maestros Jaime Buentello from Tepic, Nayarit and Maestro Daniel Andrade from Monterrey Nuevo Leon. 

Maestro Jose Tena is the recipient of the Danzantes Unidos Lifetime Achievement Award, awarded 2014.

Maria Luisa Colmenarez

For over 45 years, cultural “artivist” Maria Luisa Colmenarez has played a large role in ensuring Mexican folk dance remains accessible to the community while advocating for a larger presence in the performing arts space. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Danzantes Unidos de California, a cultural network of Mexican folk dancers and artists which plans the largest Mexican folk dance festival in the U.S., Danzantes Unidos Festival, and facilitates ​a wide variety of Mexican folk dance and cultural programming. Ms. Colmenarez is a lecturer at San Jose State University, and the co-founder and artistic director of San ​Jose’s “La Ultima Parada: A Celebration of Life on the Day of the Dead.” Additionally, she served as a cultural consultant for the award-winning Disney/Pixar film, “Coco.”

Ms. Colmenarez participated in the former California Arts Council’s ​Artist-in-Residence program and served as a Dance Grant Panelist, and ​was awarded an NEA Folk Arts grant. She is a member of the National Association of Latinos in Arts and Culture (NALAC) and graduate of its inaugural Leadership Institute. As a member of the inaugural class, Ms. Colmenarez graduated from the Multicultural Arts Leadership Initiative sponsored by 1st Act Silicon Valley.

Her credits as an artistic director and choreographer include: Artistic Director ​of Grupo Mizoc de Sacramento; Danzantes del Alma de UC Davis; Folklorico Latino de Woodland; Los Lupenos; and Alegria de San Jose. She served as dance faculty member of the International Mariachi Conference in Las Cruces, New Mexico and the International Mariachi Festival in San Jose, California.