2002 Inductee - Frank Zapata


2002 Inductee - Frank Zapata

Frank Zapata If you put your name on a product, it better be good. Frank Zapata put his name on his Ballet Folklorico and it’s one of the best in the state, if not the nation. Since 1979 the Ballet Folklorico de Frank Zapata has been performing at hundreds of public gatherings, and not just on Cinco de Mayo, Why would Frank do so much for so many people? “My major goal is to provide an avenue for the children of Stockton to maintain and enhance their self-esteem, to remain in school and graduate and proceed on to college.” “The children who join and perform in the Ballet Folklorico become exemplary youth role models to other kids because they are required to stay in school and maintain good grades. They are not allowed to ’wear color’ or join gangs. They’re all college bound, develop a high degree of self-esteem and become responsible, contributing tax paying members of the community.” Frank is doing this at a time when many Latino children are losing their cultural identity. “His dedication to help our Latino youth by instilling in them a sense of pride, respect, responsibility and knowledge about their rich Mexican heritage over the past 25 years is more than commendable,” commented renowned artist and cultural pillar of the community, Raoul Mora. “Many of my students whom I have taught when they were in elementary school have gone on to college and graduated and have become productive citizens in the community,” Frank says proudly. As director/choreographer he maintains four groups: beginners, intermediates, advanced and Main Company. He has studied in various regions of Mexico under the guidance of master teachers such as Carlos Moreno at the Instituto del Ballet Folklorico. Frank first became involved with Ballet Folklorico when he participated in Danzantes de la Luna at San Joaquin Delta College in 1976. “While working for the U.S. Postal Service in 1977 I commuted to the Bay Area after work for a number of years to practice, learn and perform many dances from different regions of Mexico.” “I decided in 1979 to start my own Ballet Folklorico here in Stockton to give all children of the community the opportunity to experience and learn the rich and colorful dances of Mexico.” Ballet Folklorico de Frank Zapata also serves to break down the walls that isolate Mexican Americans and keep them from being able to coexist with other races. “I would also like them to gain a thorough understanding of the need and importance of racial tolerance and to learn to respect one another as individual human beings regardless of race, creed, color or country of origin.” “This is to be achieved by the arduous discipline required in the training and mastering of the Folkloric dances of Mexico with the ultimate goal being to perform in front of audiences – large and small – which generally are ethnically diverse.” The folklorico has been part of Stockton’s revitalization. “Since 1979 I have taught between 800 and 1000 students and performed 100’s of shows throughout the county and the state. In 1995 we opened the first ever Ballet Folklorico dance studio in downtown Stockton.”