Campus News - June 18, 2001
Dream come true
Caro's heart in performance, teaching
By Carolyn Gonzales
Miguel Caros dance studio stands empty on a lazy summer day. The only
sound is the swamp cooler, creating an oasis on a hot Albuquerque afternoon.
Outside the window, the cars and buses pass by noiselessly on Central Avenue,
Route 66, near Old Town.
No music is playing as Caro enters the room, nor is he dressed in performance
finery, but still, his eyes dance and when he speaks, its like hearing
a familiar song. The room itself responds to his presence. The sun gleams off
the mirrored wall, posters and pictures of colorful dancers brighten.
I am the dancer. I feel the dance in my heart as I perform, but to teach
is also in my dream, Caro says. Some students take longer to learn.
I work with the class to adjust because everyone is important to me. This way,
they gain respect for me as a teacher and I develop friendships with them.
Born in Ameca in the Mexican state of Jalisco, Caro grew up in Mexico City,
where he dreamt of becoming a famous bailador and visiting the United States.
Caros first dance opportunity came when he was chosen to travel with Danzas
Autótomas de Mexico. He was one of the lucky few chosen to travel
with the company. Later he would be selected from among 200 applicants to dance
with the Naciónal Ballet Folklórico.
Hes danced the world over, touring in Europe and the United States. In
New Mexico, he noticed that while many people were of Mexican descent, local
dance groups mixed Mexican dances and costumes outside the context of Mexican
folklore. He decided he could be the one to bring authenticity to folkloric
dance in the Land of Enchantment. He returned to Mexico, but felt a strong urge
to come back to New Mexico to share the knowledge and appreciation of Mexican
dance in its historical context.
He persists in his goal to teach Mexican folk dance at its authentic best.
He runs his own studio where he teaches children as young as five as well as
adults. He teaches at UNM and at several area public schools. Hes also
taught senior citizens and inter-generational groups at the South Broadway Cultural
Because he wants his art to be true to its origin, he attends to every detail.
I design and make the costumes for the dancers, he says, showing
calloused fingers from the meticulous needlework.
I send my sister Beatriz in Mexico City the design and tell her the colors
and materials. Shes been sewing costumes for 35 years, he says.
Caros own tough-skinned thumb and forefinger come from attention to detailed
decoration on each costume.
Costumes arent all it takes to achieve the authentic look. Hair and make up are part of the package and Caros eye for detail and perfection led him to earn a cosmetology license.
The hair and make up must be the same from one dancer to the next. I
teach them how to put their hair up, and how make up is applied depending on
whether or not theyre performing at daytime or nighttime, indoors or outdoors,
His efforts are paying off. Most recently, he caught the attention of the David
Letterman Show because of a special dance he performs. Dressed in a traditional
white suit, he places a tray on his head upon which sits ten glasses filled
with water. He went to New York City to tape the dance, which he says he often
performs at weddings with the addition of a bottle of champagne on the tray
that he serves to the lucky couple with his special toast, I wish happiness
The taping involved rigorous rehearsals and, yes; there was some spilled water.
He expects the show to air the segment in about three months. Enhancing his
David Letterman experience was a chance meeting. I met Jennifer Lopez,
he says with a gleam in his eye.
Caro has spent more than three decades collecting music from the many regions
of Mexico and learning the intricacies of some 2,000 dances. He dreams of one
day having a place where he can have both his studio and his home, but in the
meantime, hes following his heart.
I want to continue to dance to the last second of my life.
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico USA
Copyright ©1998 The University of New Mexico.
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