In 1975, a recreation center was built in Dallas’ economically depressed west side. Then City Councilwoman Anita N. Martinez was instrumental in the effort. This center was the birthplace of the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico (ANMBF), the initial purpose of which was to instill in young people a sense of cultural pride and self-worth through the study of the traditional dance forms of Mexico. Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization in 1981, the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico strives to increase the awareness of folklorico as an educational art form that reflects history, geography, physical fitness and most importantly, culture. Through its diverse programs, ANMBF helps young people of all ages and races achieve awareness of the Hispanic heritage that has so influenced and enriched our modern society.
ANMBF is considered the largest professional Ballet Folklorico Company in the United States. It has been a trailblazer in the Dallas Hispanic arts and educational community. In 1990, ANMBF produced its first season of professional dances employing dancers trained in Mexico. The Professional Company Members as well as the Mini Professionals, Children’s Ensemble and Junior Company Members serve as ambassadors of the Hispanic culture for the citizens of Dallas. ANMBF has produced professional performances at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, the Dallas Theatre Center, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Majestic Theatre, the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre and the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House. Educational performances specifically designed for young audiences have been seen by more than 950,000 students over the past ten years. In 2004, ANMBF was anointed as one of the resident companies for the AT&T Performing Arts Center.
Mrs. Anita N. Martinez is the genius and guiding light behind the ANITA N. MARTINEZ BALLET FOLKLORICO, Inc. founded in 1975.
Mrs. Martinez was born in 1925 and is a fifth generation Texan Mexican-Americans. She was raised in the Dallas Mexican Community known as “Little Mexico”, El Barrio. Although she always considered herself a Texan, she was also very aware and proud of her Mexican-American roots. Her motivation to establish the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico (ANMBF) was due to the low self-esteem she noticed among Hispanic youth. This was due to the lack of Hispanic history and culture in educational curricula and the local stigma that resulted from unenlightened awareness of the rich and ancient heritage of Dallas’ Hispanic population. Mrs. Martinez was convinced that teaching Hispanic youth about the riches of their culture through performing arts, they would become more aware of traditional Mexican music, dance, and history. This awareness would motivate them to stay in school and aspire to higher educational goals.
At a very early age, Mrs. Martinez exhibited keen interest in community affairs and at only 14-years-old, she led her first movement and went from door-to-door collecting signatures so that Pearl St. in “Little Mexico” would be paved. For more than 64 years Mrs. Martinez has been involved in community service work and has caught the attention of local media. The ANMBF is maintained by public funds, special grants and private donations. Mrs. Martinez’s organization has won numerous statewide, nNational, and international recognitions.
Mrs. Martinez’s compassion and leadership skills led to her election as the first Hispanic person to serve as member on the Dallas City Council in 1969 and first Hispanic woman elected to the City Council of a major U.S. city. While Mrs. Martinez was elected to serve a city-wide-at-large district, her passion for cultural awareness and her fight for social, health and infrastructure equalities led to an outstanding record of improvements in depressed communities of West Dallas and “Little Mexico”. As tribute for her years of hard work, the Dallas City Council named a recreation center, the Anita N. Martinez Recreation Center in honor of Mrs. Martinez for her efforts in the Hispanic community and throughout the City.
ANMBF board of directors 2011:
Mrs Anita N Martinez,
Founder and Chief Fundraising Officer
Relationship Manager, Vantiv
Robin K. Minick
Immediate Past President
Director, The Real Estate Council Foundation
Co – Vice President
General Attorney, AT&T
Co -Vice President
Managing Director, Lagrant Communications
Juanita Nanez, SPHR
The Hopkins Group
Finance/Planning Assoc Manager, PepsiCo Inc.
Lisa Mesa Rogers (Ex Oficio)
Executive Director, Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico
Lisa Mesa Rogers, Executive Director
Lisa Mesa-Rogers has served in the Financial Services and Banking industries for eighteen years providing her a depth of experience in lending, insurance, community development, and outreach. She recognizes being a good leader is building a network of strategic partners. Lisa is a native of Dallas and currently lives in Coppell with her husband Bart along with her two sons Preston (8), Jonas (5), her niece Jessie (7) and her Siberian Husky Misha (12).
Lisa studied Business Administration at the University of Texas at Dallas.