GREENSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – It would be easy to miss the dance studio sitting in an unassuming strip mall in Greensboro. Some restaurants, a gym, and an ice cream shop are all that meet the eye from the outside.

But, behind the Sprinkles de Sabor ice cream shop, you can hear traditional Mexican music coming from a side door. This is where the Ballet Folklorico group, Mexican Tradition, practices in the evenings.

Julio Ruiz was born in Mexico, but he’s lived in North Carolina for decades. When he moved to Greensboro, Ruiz said there wasn’t much of a Mexican community. He started the Mexican Tradition dance company to bring his community together and teach the younger generations about their roots.

“You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where are come from. It’s important for them to know more than anything, kids born here, that they don’t have Anglo features. Knowing that they were born here, but connecting them with their own roots,” said Ruiz.

Ballet Folklorico is an umbrella term for traditional folk dances found around Mexico. The style combines indigenous and Spanish colonial dances, adding some traditional ballet techniques. Amalia Hernandez is widely known for pioneering the style when she founded the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico dance company in 1952.

“This is a combination, really, of an influence from many countries, because Mexico really adapts those customs and traditions that other countries and other places bring,” said Ruiz.

Dances can be identified from the state they come from based on the music and the style. One Mexican Tradition dances said his favorite dance came from his home state of Jalisco, Mexico.

Parents line the back of the studio while they watch their children perform traditional dances from Mexico.

“My daughter, you know, she’s second generation. You can see her question where her grandparents are coming from, where her mother is coming from, where her dad is coming from. It’s beautiful. Now she’s getting to celebrate being bicultural,” said Erendira “Endy” Mendez, whose daughter now performs the styles her father used to dance.

Ruiz runs a tight ship, requiring the utmost attention to detail from his dancers. Performers train for hours each rehearsal, often going long periods without a break.

Mexican Tradition has performed across North Carolina, including at Bank of America Stadium and cultural festivals across the state. Despite the successes, however, Ruiz said his greatest accomplishment is connecting younger generations to their roots.