She had been invited to join the Mixteco Ballet Folklorico out of Houston as they traveled overseas for two weeks and performed as part of a multicultural, multi-international performance.
“I was basically a replacement for another girl who had her quinceañera at the same time,” she said.
She raised the $1,900 she needed for the trip to Houston’s sister city, Shenzhen, hopped aboard a plane—her first time ever to fly—and was off to China with the eight-member dancing group.
“That was the longest Saturday of my life,” she said recalling that flight Nov. 29.
Now, it’s important to note that here in Texas, we know there is a difference between ballet folklorico and Texas or cowboy-style dancing.
But those in other countries don’t know that.
“It was funny because we did Mexican style dances,” she said.
They chose the dances that resemble more of what would be expected.
“We selected dances from Baja and Nuevo León. In those dances the boys wear cowboy hats. It just looks really cowboy,” Bowen said.
The trip is about the expansion of knowledge, not just for those attending but those in the audiences of their productions.
“They had groups from Russia, Germany, Ukraine and Holland,” Jennifer said. “They really had groups from everywhere.”
Performances were held throughout the area.
“There was a couple of those where we danced at big theaters. But we also danced at the Shaolin school for kids and a couple times on television.
“At least every other day we had a show.
“I don’t remember how many shows we did.
“They kind of treated us like celebrities.”
Of course, while much of the time was spent going from city to city performing for various groups, there was plenty of time to see the sites.
Even ordering a meal from McDonalds is difficult because it’s geared for the population there—and, yes, in their language also.
“At McDonalds here they serve up to a 20-piece meal,” she said. “Up there, the highest they serve is a five-piece.”
Being tourists, they went to the traditional places including the Forbidden City.
Jennifer said that, given the chance, she would love to return.
But for now, she will continue going to college and pursue her physical therapy degree.
While her future plans are far from fully messaged—somewhere amongst those dreams is that of travel.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.