Olga Najera Ramirez Russell Rodriguez Rafael  Zamarripa

Rafael Zamarripa

Rafael Zamarripa Castañeda is one of the most accomplished and highly respected master dance teachers and choreographers of Mexican dance in the world today. What distinguishes Zamarripa from other Mexican choreographers? First and foremost is his extensive training and experience as a multi-media artist. Zamarripa is one of Mexico's most prominent contemporary artists. After completing a degree in art and teacher education in Mexico, Zamarripa took advanced art courses in Italy, New Zealand, and Australia. At the age of 18, Zamarripa won the Premio Nacional de Escultura (The National Sculpture Prize) and was quickly commissioned to do the sculpture "El Niño Sobre el Caballo de Mar," which has become the official symbol of the city of Puerto Vallarta. Since then his artwork has graced numerous buildings and parks throughout the states of Jalisco and Colima, including the bronze relief structure on the Teatro Degollado and the Lion in the Tree in Plaza Tapatia, in the city of Guadalajara. The city of Colima, Zamarripa’s current home, also features his paintings and sculptures throughout the city, particularly on the University of Colima campus.

Aside from being an accomplished sculptor and painter, Zamarripa has acquired an extensive knowledge of folklórico dance. He trained and worked with Mexico's great pioneers in folklórico dance including the late Amalia Hernández, founder of the world famous Ballet Folklórico de Mexico. He also founded several major dance companies including the award-winning Grupo Folklórico de la Universidad de Guadalajara and Ballet Folklórico de la Universidad de Colima. With his colleague Emilio Pulido, Zamarripa established the Escuela de Danza at the University of Guadalajara in 1966 and became its first director. In 1980, he established the Centro de Danza Universitaria at the Universidad de Colima, making it one of the first folklórico dance schools in the country to offer the degree of licenciatura (equivalent to a bachelor's degree).


In addition to his extensive training as an artist and dancer, Zamarripa is also a devoted researcher as well. Zamarripa has personally conducted ethnographic research and consulted with various scholars to collect data upon which to build his original choreographies. Drawing on his vast artistic training, experience and talents, and informed by archival and ethnographic research, Zamarripa become one of the most innovative and inspirational leaders of folklórico dance. His distinctive "cuadros" or dance suites reveal great attention to detail. He stages the choreography, designs the costumes, develops the stage scenery, manages the lighting, and helps create the musical arrangements for his shows.

One of his most distinguishing characteristics is that for over four decades, Zamarripa has sustained a vibrant engagement with U.S.-based folklórico dancers. As early as 1966, he began touring with his dance group and thus set a standard for others to emulate. He has taught numerous folklórico dance workshop at dance and mariachi conferences such as ANGF, Mariachi conference in Las Cruces, at universities, and has also served as judge at various folklórico competitions. Despite his heavy workload with his art studio, dance companies, and dance school, Zamarripa continues to offer advanced workshops throughout the country.

Zamarripa is currently director of the Ballet Folclórico de la Universidad de Colima, and Chair of the Department of Dance in the Insituto Universitario de Bellas Artes (the Institute of Fine Arts) at the University of Colima.


For more information:
Webpage (Ballet Folkórico, University of Colima)