19-year-old dancer keeps Mexican tradition alive on TikTok

It’s commonplace for us older millennials to thank our lucky stars that TikTok wasn’t around in our teen years — but 19-year-old Matisse Rainbolt, meanwhile, is thankful for the platform’s existence.

“I love sharing my Mexican culture on TikTok,” Rainbolt told In The Know. “When I dance, I feel so, so proud that I’m able to represent my culture in such a beautiful way.”

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Rainbolt is a folklórico dancer. It’s a traditional Mexican style with its own genres of music, fashion and dance that vary based on region.

“Every state kind of has their own faldeo, which is skirt work,” Rainbolt explained. “In folklórico, you’re going to hear really loud steps most of the time … the footwork is called zapateado.”

Rainbolt grew up in Southern California, but her family is from Chihuahua, Mexico. She started taking dance classes when she was only 4 years old and looked up to her great-grandmother, who also loved dancing.

“[My great-grandmother] is somebody that has been really, really important to me my entire life,” Rainbolt said. “She’s encouraged me to learn Spanish and to continue in dancing … Seeing her face when I’m dancing, she just lights up.”

Rainbolt said that, in many generations of Mexican immigrants, families have felt “stripped of their culture.” That’s why performing folklórico for her 871,000 TikTok followers is so important to both her and her great-grandmother.

“[My great-grandmother] just looks so proud to know that somebody in the family wants to carry on these traditions and wants to pass them on,” Rainbolt said. “I want to inspire other people to do that for their culture and their family too.”

As a Mexican-American living in the U.S., Rainbolt wants to maintain strong connections with both countries.

“It is so important to me that these traditions are kept alive for a really long time,” she said. “I don’t want it to be something that is going to be really rare to see in 20 or 30 years.”

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