Campobello, Nellie (1900--1986) and Campobello, Gloria (1911--1968) By Reynoso, Jose
Sisters Nellie and Gloria Campobello migrated from Northern Mexico to Mexico City in 1923 where they became influential figures in the development of Mexican dance and the professionalization of dancers. During the 1930s, as dancers, choreographers, teachers, and dance administrators, the Campobello sisters joined the government’s efforts to develop a Mexican dance form that could reflect the country’s modern aspirations and revolutionary ideals, a nationalist project that started with the armed uprising of 1910. During this revolutionary period their work reflected the mestizo Modernism that Mexican muralists and musicians had been articulating since the early 1920s by combining elements from European modernist aesthetics and Mexico’s indigenous cultures. The Campobellos participated in government-sponsored cultural missions that comprised brigades of artists and teachers who, as part of Mexico’s post-revolutionary project, traveled to rural areas in order to educate indigenous populations, in subjects ranging from literacy to agricultural techniques. These nationalist efforts prompted artists and teachers like Nellie and Gloria to document traditional and indigenous costumes, crafts, musical rhythms and dances as symbols of an emerging national identity. The Campobello sisters and others like them used these materials in combination with ballet and other movement techniques in order to compose choreographic works that were representative of the nation. Gloria Campobello eventually became Mexico’s prima ballerina and the two sisters founded the Ballet of Mexico City in 1941. In addition to her work in dance, Nellie Campobello wrote several books and was the only female writer to publish narrations of the Mexican revolution based on her own childhood experiences.