Lic. Rafael Garcia Cruz
Rafael Garcia Cruz began dancing at the age of 10 at the Ollin Yoliztli Cultural Center in Mexico City where he studied theater, modern dance, jazz, folklorico, art history and music. At age 20, Rafael was accepted into the University of Colima, Mexico and began his undergraduate studies in "Danza Escenica" (Theater and Dance) and also became a member of the internationally known Ballet Folklorico de La Universidad de Colima de Rafael Zamarripa. While in the company he travelled to performed in the best theaters in Mexico, including Auditorio National and El Teatro Degollado. Rafael completed his Licenciatura en Danza Escenica (B.A. in Theater and Dance) in 2016.
His area's of expertise include choreography, traditional Mexican Folk Dance, arial dance, theater, and modern dance (Limon, Horton and Graham Technique).
Rafael Garcia currently gives workshops throughout Mexico and the United States and serves as Co-Director for "Contradanza," a Mexican Folk Dance company located in Mexico City.
Kareli Montoya, B.S.W.
Kareli Montoya's career in the folklórico and mariachi world began at the young age of seven at a community park in the city of Commerce, CA. Throughout her childhood Kareli had the fortune of learning from the best instructors in California and the U.S. such as Maria Venegas (founder of the Ballet Folklórico del Sur de California), and folklorico pioneer, Benjamin Hernandez (founding member of the Ballet Folklórico de la U de G and founder of professional company Mexicapan). At the age of twelve, Kareli was invited to form part of professional dance company, Danza Teocalt, directed by Miguel Angel Diaz, where she was given the opportunity to tour with Grammy Award-Winning Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano. At age fifteen she became the youngest dancer ever given the opportunity to perform at the legendary La Fonda de Los Camperos where she danced every week for three years. In 2009, Kareli and three other dance colleagues founded Folklor Pasión Mexicana, a professional dance company. While in this company she performed in the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade, the Santa Barbara Mariachi Festival, and shared the stage with various famous mariachi bands such as Mariachi Vargas and Mariachi Los Camperos. In 2011, after graduating from California State University, Los Angeles with a degree in Social Work, Kareli travelled to Colima, Mexico where she studied and performed with internationally known Ballet Folklórico de la Universidad de Colima directed by folklórico icon and sculptor Rafael Zamarripa. After returning from Colima Kareli founded Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles in 2011 and founded BFLA Performing Arts Academy, currently known as the Ballet Folklorico Company, in 2013. Kareli has co-produced 6 concerts for Star Entertainment, a non-profit production company owned by Dr. Raul Ruiz, that has created high quality cultural concerts for over ten years. Kareli has choreographed over 50 original pieces for her dance company, Mitu, Lilit Hovhannisyan, the San Bernardino Symphony and the Culver City Symphony. In March of 2017 she choreographed the Mariachi Remake of "A Tale as Old as Time" for Mitu Network. The video went viral at nearly 14 million views in less than a month! Get to know Maestra Kareli through her Folklorico Blog and Tutorials!
Juan Talavera has been performing Spanish and Flamenco Dance since his teens. Now at the tender age of 74 when most people are winding down, Sr. Talavera is on his second wind! Currently headlining his New Company FLAMENCO BRAVO! Juan is busy doing corporate and promotional appearances, lectures, classes and workshops at his intimate studio in Whittier, Ca. and company concerts.
Talavera currently appears at the Legendary El Cid Flamenco Dinner Theater in Hollywood. He was one of the original owners, having opened the doors in 1962, along with Clark and Margarita Allen. El Cid has become the home of Flamenco in Hollywood, and Juan has returned to the El Cid Stage for Concert and nightclub appearances. He is in current discussion and planning for three FLAMENCO BRAVO! appearances in June, July and August. Then off to Spain to Study with the masters there and attend La Bienal de Flamenco, in Seville for a month.