2001 Inductee - Esperanza P. Ramirez

2001 Inductee - Esperanza P. Ramirez

Fine Arts/Culture

If the Mexican culture is to thrive and not just survive, it will be because of people like Esperanza. Her 24 years of involvement in Mexican Folklorico is keeping alive a Mexican tradition that goes back centuries. Esperanza has been a Mexican Folklorico dance teacher and director for the last 16 years. She is on the Board of the Associacion Nacional de Grupos Folkloricos (ANGF) as a northern California representative. The organization has 600 members. She also belongs to the association, Danzantes Unidos de California. Her first community involvement was with the Community Service Organization. She assisted a notary public with immigration cases and wrote letters in Spanish for people.

Esperanza attended cosmetology school, a long time ambition of hers. After earning her cosmetology license she worked in a beauty salon for 18 months before buying her own beauty salon, which she had from 1964 to 1973. A major surgery in 1969 was “a major turning point in my life.” Without the surgery her doctor told her she would have died within several months. She had a craniotomy, the removal of a tumor from the pituitary gland. Unfortunately, she had to have a second surgery in the same area to stop a spinal fluid leak in her nostrils where some bone had been worn away by the tumor. Recovery time for her, learning how to talk clearly, trying to balance herself, and walk, took many weeks.

I found I needed something to help me think, “well, relearn the usage of my hands and fingers, and an exercise to better balance my body and help stimulate my thinking. I decided to enroll in a ballroom dance class at Delta College. It was a blast, I took four years of ballroom dancing and my balance improved tremendously.” She continued her rehabilitation, became a cosmetology instructor, and attended college for her credential in Designated Subjects. One class she took was Mexican Folkways. For a class project she chose “Mexican Folk Dancing and Music. “I gave my presentation with a folkloric dance group, music and costumes. Talk about excitement, wow, I did it and was very proud of my accomplishment.”

That class project led to becoming a Mexican Folkloric dancer and instructor for the last 24 years. The ANGF conferences are held in different states and in Mexico. Maestros from Mexico conduct classes in their native dances, music and costumes. Esperanza has gone into K-6, middle and high schools to teach Mexican Folk dancing. One example of her involvement was the time she helped three Lodi girls do their senior projects on Mexican dancing. Why would she take time to help young people? “My reward is helping them in their education and showing their fellow classmates the Mexican Culture through dance and music.” She enjoys taking her dance groups of 250 dancers to perform in places they have never been, such as the Oakland Coliseum, and Silver Lake, and the fair.

It has been rewarding for many members to perform at the fair. Some have never been to the fair. Have you ever seen someone so happy to be going to the fair for the first time? They radiate and squeal joyfully! “I’ve seen it and it makes me feel great inside to be able to bring this joy to them for being part of Los Danzantes del Puerto” Esperanza is proud when one of her former students go on to great success, such as being named Miss Hispanic of San Joaquin County or becoming a college professor. Because of dedicated people like Esperanza Ramirez, our culture continues to survive.