six dancers in colorful, traditional dresses lift their skirts in a semi-circle

'¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva America!'
Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles and Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar

8 p.m. Friday, May 17, 2024 | Yardley Hall

Tickets start at $25.

Individual Tickets

This exciting program celebrates the music and dance created when Mexican Americans combine elements from both sides of the border. Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar opens with the traditional, then ventures through modern times with Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles, whose Oscar-performance Disney tunes conclude this colorful show.

Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles

Founded in 2011 by Kareli Montoya, Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles (BFLA) has distinguished itself as the nation’s premier Mexican folk-dance company. Their skillful dancers have graced world-class venues such as the Anaheim Convention Center, Orpheum Theater, Nokia Theater, Greek Theater, John Anson Ford Amphitheater, Santa Barbara Bowl, Valley Performing Arts Center, the Staples Center, Tempe Center for the Arts and the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. Since its inception, BFLA has worked with the industry’s finest Grammy Award-winning artists such as Lila Downs, Pepe Aguilar, Mariachi Divas and Mariachi Los Camperos.

They have shared the stage and accompanied mariachi greats like Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan, world-famous Mariachi Vargas and Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar. Not shy of any genre, Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles has worked with music celebrities like Ana Barbara, Morrissey, Ruben (Cafe Tacuba), Las Cafeteras, Beatriz Adriana, Banda El Recodo, Paquita la del Barrio, Empress Of and Armenian pop star Lilit Hovhannisyan.

This amazing dance troop was the first Folklórico company in the country to accompany symphony orchestras such as the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra and the Marina del Rey Symphony, both conducted by Frank Fetta.

Media coverage has made BFLA internationally recognized, especially after being featured in the 2016 National Geographic Traveler UK edition and with their collaboration with Mitu Network on a Mariachi Remake of Beauty and the Beast’s “A Tale as Old as Time,” featuring Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar and BFLA’s Director, Kareli Montoya. The video went viral on Facebook at 15 million views (and counting)!

If you have seen Pixar’s “Coco Live” at the Hollywood Bowl or on Disney+, then you have already seen BFLA in action, as they assisted Disney Studios with magical performances during 2017 for the release of “Coco.” They were the folkloristas at the D23 Expo where they performed on stage with Benjamin Bratt, Mariachi Divas and the Grammy-winning Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band.

Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles Artistic Director, Kareli Montoya

Kareli Montoya’s professional career began at age 15, when she became the youngest dancer to perform at the legendary La Fonda de Los Camperos. Her commitment to her craft led to a tenure with La Fonda lasting many years.

Montoya continued her professional dancing career while attending Cal-State University of Los Angeles, where she received a bachelor’s degree in social work in 2011. Having fulfilled the goal of being the first in her immediate family to receive a college degree, Montoya traveled to Colima, Mexico, to realize another professional goal: study with the internationally known Ballet Folklórico de la Universidad de Colima.

During her time in Colima, Montoya acquired new techniques and a stronger passion for Folklórico, which led her to a return to Los Angeles with the distinct goal of establishing her own professional dance company. From this drive and commitment to the art of Folklórico, the Ballet Folklórico de Los Angeles and BFLA Performing Arts Academy, currently known as Thee Academy, were born.

While Montoya had been recognized for her work within the Folklórico community, it was her extensive effort as the “Coco” choreographer for Disney Studios that put her on the international stage. Her choreography work for Disney Studio began in 2017 at the D23 Expo, where Kareli assembled over 100 Folklórico dancers that closed the Pixar presentations. Impressed with her professional capabilities, Disney Studios called on Montoya to choreograph the cempasuchil carpet entrance for the world premiere of “Coco.” 

She rounded off that year on “Dancing With the Stars,” where she assisted Artem Grigoryev with his choreography of the song “Remember Me.” Montoya’s work throughout 2017 led to an opportunity of a lifetime when she was asked to assist Mandy Moore (choreographer for the movie “La La Land”), at the 90th Academy Awards with a rendition of the Academy Award-winning song “Remember Me” which was brought to life on air by Montoya and several BFLA dancers. She could never have imagined that her love and passion for Folklórico would lead her to assist Cindy Stuart with Disney On Ice’s “Coco” segment of the “Mickey’s Search Party Show” or that her choreography and performance would be streamed on Disney+ with “Coco Live” at the Hollywood Bowl.

Disney isn’t the only organization to recognize her talents as she can now add the off-Broadway musical “Americano” to her growing list of choreography consultations. On top of working and performing as part of the 90th Academy Awards, she had the opportunity to collaborate with world-renowned choreographer Nika Kjun on a featured number that was performed with Banda El Recodo and Lila Downs.

Prior to her work with Disney Studio, Montoya was nationally recognized as the “Mexican Belle” for her performance and choreography in a partnership with Mitu Network and Mariachi Garibaldi’s de Jaime Cuéllar’s remake of “A Tale as Old as Time” which has become a viral video with over 15 million views.

Continuing to work on her craft and give back to the community, Montoya has earned her master’s degree in social work at the University of Southern California and added dance movement therapy to her vast list of skills.

Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar

Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar has enchanted audiences with their dynamic musicianship and lively stage presence for more than 25 years. Founded in 1994 by Jaime Cuéllar, Mariachi Garibaldi’s commitment to providing a quality representation of the mariachi genre has propelled them into becoming one of Los Angeles (and California’s) most recognized Mariachis.

Under the direction of Jimmy “El Pollo” Cuéllar, son of Jaime Cuéllar, Mariachi Garibaldi is considered one of the leading Mariachi ensembles regularly called upon to share the stage with some of Mexico’s most beloved performers such as The Aguilar Family: Pepe, Angela and Leonardo, Juan Gabriel, Alejandro Fernandez, Pedro Fernandez, Espinoza Paz, Paquita del Barrio, Aida Cuevas, Ana Barbara, Steeven Sandoval, Graciela Beltran, Maria Elena Beltran, Yolanda del Rio, Pablo Montero, Mercedes Castro, Humberto Herrera, Beatriz Adriana, Empress Of and Armenian pop star Lilit Hovhannisyan.

Most recently, Mariachi Garibaldi were featured performers for Camila Cabello’s Tiny Desk concert performing “La Buena Vida,” and truly displaying that mariachi music transcends all platforms. Their elevated musicianship has also opened invitations to perform on prestigious stages to sold-out crowds, such as the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, Teatro Degollado, Valley Performing Arts Center, The John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, Bakersfield Fox Theatre, The Chandler Center for the Arts, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Tempe Center for the Arts and The Gallo Center for the Arts.

Mariachi Garibaldi enjoys a professional partnership with Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles and together they have entertained thousands of people at sold-out venues. Both collaborated with Mitu Network to recreate Disney’s Beauty and the Beast’s “Tale as Old As Time” which catapulted their professional careers and became a viral video with over 15 million views. Their ornate mariachi jacket became a commodity of trade when Dodger pitcher Joe Kelly wore it with honor at the White House.

Mariachi Garibaldi Musical Director, Jimmy K. Cuéllar

Originally from Bakersfield, California, Jimmy Cuéllar began his mariachi career as a teenager alongside his father, Jaime Cuéllar, and was a founding member of Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar. His dedication to his musical craft drove “El Pollo” to fine-tune his skills on the violin, guitarron, vihuela, guitar and guitarra de golpe, securing him a 10-year tenure with Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano.

In subsequent years, Cuéllar accompanied well-known Latin recording artists Yolanda del Rio, Mercedes Castro, Humberto Herrera, Lila Downs, Vikki Carr, Aida Cuevas, Eugenia Leon and Jose Feliciano.  He has been an instrumental member in various recording productions, including the 2010 release of Ry Cooder and The Chieftains, “San Patricio.”

Beginning In 2005, Jimmy saw Grammy success when he was a featured artist on the Grammy Award-winning album “cELLAbration: A Tribute to Ella Jenkins.” The following year, “Llegaron Los Camperos: Concert Favorites of Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos” received a Grammy nomination for best Mexican album. In 2008, he added to his Grammy success with “Cien Por Ciento Mexicano” by Pepe Aguilar received a Grammy Award for best regional Mexican album with “Amor, Dolor, y Lagrimas.” 

Composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, three-time Grammy Award-nominated and three-time Grammy Award winner, Cuéllar understands the importance of education. Having received his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Long Beach’s Bob Cole Conservatory of Music in 2009, “El Pollo” decided to continue his musical education and enroll with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he is pursuing a master’s in music composition.

His talents as an educator as well as nationally regarded expert in the genre have earned Cuéllar a yearly seat as an adjudicator for the statewide Mariachi Competition held in Texas. Along with Kareli Montoya, he runs Thee Academy, one of the most prominent joint Folklorico/Mariachi schools in the West.