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La Joya ISD alumni inspires students through a New York ballet company.

Posted Date: 10/22/2019

La Joya ISD dance students from across our three high schools and eight middle schools were treated to a performance by Ballet Nepantla, a New York-based dance company founded and directed by Edinburg native Andrea Guajardo.

Guajardo and the members of her company are classically trained ballet dancers, but their performances only resembles ballet in its poise and finesse. Instead of tights and tutus, the dancers wear flowing skirts and zarapes. Heeled leather boots often take the place of ballet slippers during the performances. The only props most of Ballet Nepantla’s ballerinas use during the show are rifles and bandoliers.

One of their shows “Valentina” tells the story of women during the Mexican Revolution, melding together characters and styles that have long had a place in Mexican folklorico with ballet and contemporary dance to tell a tale of struggle and strife during a time of war.

Although Ballet Nepantla employs performers from all over the world, five of the dancers are Valley natives, including La Joya ISD’s and La Joya High School alum Francesca Iannelli, 24, who previously danced on the same stage as a high school student. She states that performing in the same stage she did as a high school student felt natural.

“I guess when I was in high school I never really realized how great of an auditorium this was,” she said. “I always performed here, and now it’s like we don’t really get to perform in places as nice as this. It feels good to be back.”

After the performance, Guajardo and Iannelli stayed behind for a question and answer session and dance lesson with students, answering queries on their careers and offering advice on the students’ dancing.

Guajardo and her dancers will continue to tell those stories in Texas with several performance in The Rio Grande Valley. For more information on Ballet Nepantla please visit them on their website at or on their Facebook page.