Kareli Montoya’s career in the folklorico and mariachi world began at the young age of seven in a community park in her hometown of Commerce, CA. Throughout her childhood, Kareli had the fortune of learning from some of the best instructors in U.S. such as Maria Venegas, and folklórico pioneer, Benjamin Hernandez. At the age of twelve, she was invited to form part of professional dance company, Danza Teocalt de Miguel Angel Diaz, and given the opportunity to tour with Grammy Award-Winning, Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano. At age fifteen, she became the youngest dancer to perform at the legendary La Fonda de Los Camperos, where she danced every week for three years. Between 2007-2011, Kareli performed at the Tournament of Roses Parade, and shared the stage with famous mariachi bands such as Mariachi Vargas, Mariachi Los Camperos, and Mariachi Divas. In 2011, after graduating from Cal State L.A. with a degree in Social Work, Kareli traveled to Colima, Mexico where she studied with the internationally known Ballet Folklórico de la Universidad de Colima, directed by folklórico icon and sculptor, Rafael Zamarripa. After returning from Colima, Kareli founded Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles and BFLA Performing Arts Academy, currently known as the Thee Academy.
Kareli is known for her extensive work as the “COCO” choreographer for Disney Studios. In 2017, she choreographed a magical performance with over 100 folklorico dancers that closed the Pixar presentations at the D23 Expo. Shortly after, she was asked to choreograph for the world premiere of the movie in Hollywood. Last year, Kareli appeared on “Dancing With the Stars,” where she assisted Artem Grigoryev with his choreography of the song “Remember Me.” Earlier this year, Kareli was assistant choreographer to Mandy Moore (Choreographer for the movie La La Land), at the 90th Academy Awards, where she performed to the Academy Award-Winning song “Remember Me.” This summer she assisted Cindy Stuart with the Disney On Ice COCO segment of the Mickey's Search Party Show.
Some of you may know Kareli as the “Mexican Belle” for the choreography she made and performed in Mitu’s Mariachi Remake of “A Tale as Old as Time.” The video went viral at over 16 million views and counting!
Kareli performed at the 2017 Latin Grammys, where she worked with world renowned choreographer, Nika Kjun on the number that was performed with Banda el Recodo and Lila Downs.
Get to know Meastra Kareli through her popular YouTube Folklorico Tutorials, Folklorico Podcasts, and Blog!