In keeping with the tradition of celebrating our Living Legends, we are happy to announce Jose Tena Week and invite you to join in on wishing a very Happy Birthday (11/12) to Maestro Tena of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Jose Tena arrived to Las Cruces from Chihuahua to visit his sister in the summer of 1978. Little did he know that the ‘visit’ would keep him in Las Cruces for the next thirty years. In September of that year Mr. Tena established the Ballet Folklorico de la Tierra Del Encanto in conjunction with the NMSU Chicano Studies Program and since then he has been teaching, sharing, and promoting ballet folklorico in the USA.
Mr. Tena is a graduate from the “Escuela Superior de Danza” in Chihuahua where he prepared to teach the rich culture and traditions of Mexican folklore through dance. Over the years he has worked with nearly every school in the Las Cruces School District and surrounding communities; from Sunland Park to Española and from Hobbs to Farmington.
Mr. Tena’s vision and that of his dance members has been to promote and rescue traditions from the state of New Mexico by researching and reinstating dances that were typical in New Mexico during the Colonial times by performing them and teaching them to everyone willing to learn them.
Mr. Tena and Ballet Folklorico de la Tierra del Encanto have been recipients of numerous recognitions for their work at State, National and International levels. Recently they received the Humanitarian Award from the Hispano Chambers of Commerce of Las Cruces for their contribution to the community, the Outstanding Performance recognition from President Clinton during Mr. Clinton’s visit to Las Cruces, and the Doña Ana Historical Society Award for preserving our culture and history through dance. Mr. Tena and his group have also been recognized for several years by New Mexico State University for “Outstanding Hispanic Community Service” to The Doña Ana Arts Council. As testament to his many contributions to his community, the Dance Program at NMSU has dedicated a dance classroom at the Student Activity Center—the “Jose Tena Studio” where he teaches every semester. Mr. Tena was proclaimed “Grand Marshall” in 2008 by the City of Las Cruces, a very well deserved honor from the people of Las Cruces. Jose Tena was awarded the Danzantes Unidos “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the Folklorico World Record at DUF 2014.
Mr. Tena and The Ballet Folklorico de la Tierra del Encanto served as the inspiration to writer, Candice Stanford and the painter, Flo Hosa Dougherty who collaborated on their book about Mr. Tena’s dream to teach dance to the whole community. The publication “El Hombre que puso a bailar a todo el Pueblo” (“The Men Who Set the Town Dancing”) was published in 2003.
Jose Tena has been featured in the Las Cruces Sun-News as “Artist of the Week”. See full article here: Las Cruces Sun News
Tu Revista Latina – THE JOSE TENA ISSUE – includes a great article about Jose’s work in Las Cruces and one of his tasty recipes — YES, Jose Tena is an amazing cook!
Mr. Tena and his group were big supporters and active participants of the Whole Enchilada Fiesta during its initiation in 1982 where they worked on its organization from its initial stage, followed by their dance performances and participation in fundraising by cooking typical mexican food.
Mr. Tena was a founding supporter of the Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference where he served as a board member and Dance Director of the folklorico workshops. His dance company members also assisted all of the Folkorico Dance Instructors in teaching the workshops. He was the founding dance workshop director for the Mariachi Conference de Tucson, AZ and was the founding dance workshop director for the Mariachi Conference de San Jose, CA.
Mr.Tena worked for the City of Las Cruces with the Museum Program for over thirteen years, where he helped to promote and establish various programs and exhibits. One of these was the rescue of the tradition of The Day of the Dead celebration. He and his group revived this tradition about twenty years ago and continue to celebrate it annually, inviting families and friends from our community to participate, to come celebrate and eat the traditional pork posole prepared by Mr. Tena’s family and group dance members the day before this celebration.
Mr. Tena has traveled all over the country as an artist-in-residence in cities–San Antonio, TX, Boston, MA, Seattle, WA, San Diego CA–to name a few; and in colleges and universities such as, Harvard University, Georgetown University, University of California Los Angeles, Fresno State University, San Diego State University, Colorado State University, Arizona State University and Oklahoma Panhandle State University. He has a permanent position as Master Instructor for the annual Danzantes Unidos Festival in California; which is the largest gathering celebration of Mexican Folk Dancers in the world.
When he is not busy traveling and giving workshops around the United States, Mr. Tena is a full-time faculty member at La Academia Dolores Huerta Charter Middle School. He teaches folklorico at New Mexico State University and is the Director and Choreographer of The Ballet Folklorico de la Tierra del Encanto.
Danzantes Unidos looks forward to welcoming Maestro Jose Tena to DUF 2016 in Los Angeles, March 18 to 20. Stay tuned to our website in December for class registration information. In the interim, please visit Maestro Tena’s Facebook Fan Page at Jose Tena Dancer and join over 550 folklorico fans who find this Maestro very special. May his boots dance forever. Chin-chin.