Benavidez steps up as new baile teacher


Oscar Benavidez leads his 6th period class in practicing “La Bruja de Veracruz” dance, which they performed for Dia de los Muertos.

After 25 years as Alisal’s baile folklorico teacher, Ramon Silva decided to retire in 2019. After a year of distance learning, with a slew of substitutes, the school found Silva’s replacement; Oscar Benavidez, an alum and a former student of Silva’s. 

Benavidez had Silva as a junior and said Silva’s class was “a positive environment to be around.” In addition to being his student, Benavidez was also invited by Silva in 2012 to be part of Tonatiuh, a dance organization started by Silva, where he expanded his baile journey. “It didn’t really impact me when I was younger, but I definitely did see the change when I was getting into it my junior year and I saw how it made me keep on coming to class and to school in general and saw how his class was full of encouragement,” he said. Benavidez had the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas for a tour in 2013 and now has become the president and part of the Board of Directors. “I am privileged to be able to work with an organization that has given me skills to use in my perfection,” he said.

Benavidez graduated in 2014, attended Hartnell College for two years, and then transferred to San Jose State. He wanted to be a marine biologist, but after a couple of classes he knew it wasn’t for him, so he changed his career path and got his BA in dance. “I saw how Mr. Silva worked and had fun at the same time and I knew that that was something I wanted to do,” Benavidez said. 

After college, while working jobs to pay the bills, Benavidez helped the Lupenos, an academy for teens to learn baile folklorico in San Jose. In the academy, he taught beginner and advanced levels of baile folklorico. “The classes felt like an actual company. I learned a lot of different techniques and had different teachers,” he said. 

On July 6th, Benavidez received a call from the Principal, Ernesto Garcia, about the baile position. “When I got the call I was excited and shocked. It was last minute and I knew the school was just starting so I wasn’t sure I was gonna get called.” 

He was excited, but scared because he didn’t know what he was getting into. “I just used to teach one class and that was it and now I’m teaching 5 classes,” Benavidez said. 

Even though he had mixed feelings about the position he knew he couldn’t turn the offer down. 

“I always knew I wanted to teach, but of course Mr. Silva talked to me and told me about the position,” said Benavidez.  “I always knew I wanted to teach high school and wanted to come back just to keep the program alive. When they told me I had the job I didn’t think twice and accepted the position instantly.” 

His first day in class took a little mental preparation. “It felt weird, then eventually I saw the students and started introducing myself and then getting everything together it felt more natural,” said Benavidez. 

He was well received by his new students, as they were relieved to know they had a teacher to stay. “I got a lot of positive feedback. A lot of students were happy to have someone here and definitely many students came up to me and told me how happy they were to finally have someone and excited to learn folklorico because it’s been a while since they learned something,” he said. Benavidez said he’s glad to be a Trojan again. “The culture of the school hasn’t changed.”

Junior Diana Romero said, “I like the way he teachers. The different dances and the regions he talks about are interesting.”  

Benavidez wants to host a couple shows with at least 25 students performing. “I would like to do at least two big shows a year, one show in the winter for winter performance and the other one during the spring for spring performance. I will also want to make sure we are performing for el dia de los muertos, 5 de mayo and independence day just to give the students the opportunity to perform,” he said. 

     He hopes to keep the program alive for as long as he can, and he also hopes to make Alisal’s baile folklorico program a memorable one. “I will try my best [to see] that the students get everything they need and that what we have just gets much better,” said Benavidez.