A Mexican dance group for youth and adults in Elgin hopes to find a space to practice that offers heating and air-conditioning.
Ballet Folklorico Girasol has been in existence for about four years, and for the last two has been practicing at Grand Plaza El Mesias indoor mall in Elgin.
Dance instructor Marilu Torres of Cary said she is grateful the mall's management only charges $250 a month. However, it's a less than ideal setting.
The dancers mostly practice next to one of the two indoor soccer courts, which can get very loud, she said.
"The hard part is, we're indoors when it's really cold and there is no heater. When it's hot, we dance outside or we dance inside where there is no A/C" she said. "It's been really, really hard, but we use whatever we can use."
Torres is a native of Mexico who's been teaching for about 15 years. She said she works full-time for a doctor's office.
The dance group includes a youth contingent of 17 kids ages 4 to 11 who meet on Thursdays, and a group of 10 teens and adults who meet Saturdays.
The group learns folkloric dances from different Mexican states, such as El Coyote from the state of Sinaloa, El Jarabe Tapatio from Jalisco, Sones from Michoacan and Las Cacerolas from Durango.
They practiced at a church in Elgin for the first two years, Torres said.
"The pastor was my neighbor, and he let us practice there. Then he moved to a different state, and they didn't let us practice anymore," she said. "They said the (dancers') shoes damaged the floor."
That's when the group moved to the indoor mall.
Parent Lourdes Alanis of Carpentersville said dancing has been a wonderful activity for her daughters Ashly, 7, and Yvonne, 5.
Her husband stumbled upon the dance group when he went to the mall a couple of months ago, she said.
"It's a great thing that the kids are learning about their culture, but it's not a good setting for them. Still, they keep doing it with energy."
Torres charges $30 per month, but many of the families can't afford that, she said.
That means Torres often supplements expenses, including fabric for costumes, which are sown by a seamstress in Elgin, she said.
"My goal is not to make money. It's just to see that the kids really are learning in a really good place and in good hands," she said.
Torres says she hopes someone will offer a low-cost space to practice somewhere in Elgin or South Elgin.
"The kids are really good kids. We have no problems, and the parents are there with them (at practice)," she said. "We are willing to pay as much as we can, whatever we can afford. At least we want a place where the kids feel comfortable."
Ballet Folklorico Girasol will hold a fundraiser May 9 at The Meadows Club, 2950 W. Golf Road in Rolling Meadows.
There will be a fashion show, dinner with mariachi music, a dance performance by the group, and a DJ until midnight.
Tickets are $47 for adults, $25 for kids.
For information, call Torres at (630) 272-6008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.