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Ballet Folklorico dancers perform during Righetti High School's celebration of Dia de los Muertos in 2016.

Ballet Folklorico students from three high schools and Hancock College will use traditional music and dance performances to keep Mexican and Latino culture alive during the "Celebration of Mexican Culture" Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at the Ethel Pope Auditorium, 901 S. Broadway.

About 100 entertainers from Righetti, Santa Maria and Pioneer Valley high schools as well as Hancock College will participate.

"The program is festive and colorful, and is filled with a great variety of exciting music and dances reflecting the diverse world of Mexican Latino music and dance,'' said Righetti Marimba Band and Ballet Folklorico Director Ricardo Gabaldon.

The two-hour program will feature 10 different regions of traditional Mexican folk dance and several contemporary selections as well. The performance will include dance selections from the Mexican states of Baja California, Chihuahua, Colima, Guerrero, Nuevo León, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Jalisco.

Combined with this impressive variety of traditional folk dances will be a presentation of traditional and contemporary Mexican and Latino songs performed by Righetti’s Marimba Band.

“Celebration is really special because you can see how hard every group has worked to deliver such a great performance and give the audience a taste of our culture," said Righetti dancer Christie Montejano. "We've all put so much time and effort into our dances and songs to perfect them. It's exciting to see all the schools come together, and to see young kids looking up to us is such a heartwarming feeling. This experience has taught me so much about my culture. I now feel even more connected to my roots, and I’m so excited to be able to share it with others.”

“We are all proud to be able to show the public what our heritage has to offer," said Santa Maria dancer Alex Medina. "I invite you to come to Celebration and see all the schools come together as one and show you what we've been working towards. We hope you enjoy the show and keep on supporting us throughout the year with our other performances around the community.”

Tickets can be purchased at PVHS, ERHS and SMHS. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door.

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