Ballet Nepantla brings pride and connection to CLS Hispanic Heritage Month celebration

September 18, 2023

Invested in providing inclusive programming and strengthening community partnerships, the Chicano/Latino Studies Program, the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan, the College of Social Science, the Institutional Diversity and Inclusion Office, the College Assistant Migrant Program and COMCAST were able to provide Spartans and Michiganders a free performance by Ballet Nepantla and in doing so, begin celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.  

“We had over 800 people in attendance at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts from very diverse backgrounds. Not only did the audience’s responses during the performance were encouraging, but we continue to receive very positive feedback. In the end, the audience was moved, felt a sense of connection, and pride.” said Dr. Isabel Ayala, Director of CLS and Associate Professor of Sociology.

Based in New York, Ballet Nepantla fuses classical and contemporary ballet with Mexican folklórico. Through innovative choreography and harnessing the musical richness of traditional narratives, Nepantla performed Mística- a story ballet that honors the dead. Mística tells stories of the ancients through new choreographic renditions of El Venado, Viejitos, and other traditional favorites. New stories also emerged, performed in black light, as the dead come back to life in celebratory fashion. 

It is one of many events planned this year for Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 - Oct. 15. The cultural celebrations bring together students, faculty, staff and community members to honor their Hispanic heritage and showcase the many facets of Latinx culture. The month also brings attention to the academic aspects of Chicano/Latino Studies.

“CLS is committed to not only provide access to curriculum and programming that represents who Latinx, Latine, Latinas/os, Hispanics, all of us are, but also elevate what Chicano/Latino Studies, as a field of study, does to expand our understanding of society,” said Dr. Ayala.   

“We want Latinx folks to feel represented throughout our classes and professional development workshops, but also be proud of the knowledge that they bring with them once they arrive at MSU. And so, CLS is invested in partnering with MSU units and community partners, so that students, staff and faculty feel seen and valued and that for Spartans who do not self-identify as Latinx, to learn about the richness of our culture.”

For more information about CLS academic programs including the CLS undergraduate minor, the Dual Major Doctoral Degree in CLS and the CLS Graduate Certificate, please contact CLS at or visit our website at 

If you would like to contribute to Chicano/Latino Studies Student Emergency Fund or our Internship Fund, please click here:

View photos of the event by photographer Dane Robison, MSU, here:


Ballet Nepantla