Ballet Folklórico Aires Panameños is a dance ensemble and non-profit organization established in Miami in 1996. Specializing in Panamanian traditional dances, their mission is to spread and celebrate the beauty of Panama’s folklore. Ballet Folklórico Aires Panameños has performed all over the country and at international venues like Feria Artesanal in Panama, Symphony of the Americas, and the international folklore competition Dancing with the World where they won first place in 2011. The ensemble has also been featured on the Premio Lo Nuestro awards show and Celebrando Nuestras Reinas for the Miss Universe pageant. In addition to performances and workshops, Ballet Folklórico Aires Panameños serves its community and performs at hospitals, nursing homes, and other local events. As ambassadors of Panamanian folklore, they take pride in promoting their heritage beyond Panama’s borders.
The full dance ensemble poses for a photo in various traditional costumes. There are 22 members and the group is comprised of both men and women.
Five people in different costumes pose for a photo. Each costume is different and includes elaborate headpieces, masks, and outfits.

Residency Programs

Demonstration: Panamanian Devils
Saturday, January 20
FREE, Registration required

Free Family Fun Day: Rhythms of Panama
Saturday, February 10
FREE, Registration required

Performance: Dancing Across the Regions of Panama 
Saturday, March 2
FREE, Registration required

More about Ballet Folklórico Aires Panameños

The following is from an interview HistoryMiami Museum conducted with Ossyris Paez-Bury in 2023.

1. What is your name and where are you from? 

My name is Ossyris Paez-Bury. I was born in Panama City, Republic of Panama.

2. When and why did you move to Miami? 

We moved to Miami in 1988. My parents were looking for better opportunities for their children because the country was going through political turmoil during the dictatorship of General Noriega. Miami was a great fit since it is a cosmopolitan city, just like Panama, with many welcoming Latin communities.

3. What music and dance traditions does Ballet Folklórico Aires Panameños practice?

We practice traditions from the different provinces or states of Panama such as Chiriquí, West Panama (Chorrera), Veraguas, Colon, Darien, Cocle, Panama City, Los Santos, and Bocas Del Toro.

4. Tell me about your history with Ballet Folklórico Aires Panameños.

The Ballet Folklórico Aires Panameños was founded by the Raveneau family in 1996 as a place for Panamanian Americans to enjoy and share their culture. Our non-profit organization is comprised of students and professionals dedicated to giving their best in every performance. In 1998, I took the commitment as a dancer and choreographer to take our dance group to the next level. I became the Director in 2005. With the unconditional support of Dr. Roger Carrillo, President of our organization, we have surpassed our expectations. My greatest joy is seeing my dancers’ evolution and having my children perform alongside me.

5. Where do you perform?

As part of our “Outreach Community Program,” Aires Panameños has performed for the American Cancer Association, Parada de los Reyes Magos in Miami, Miss Universe 2015 Parade, La Sopa del Pobre, and at hospitals, homes, churches, and other community events. Our group was honored to win 1st place in 2011 and 2nd place in 2015 in the international folklore competition “Dancing with the World.” Aires Panameños has participated in events all over the USA such as Encuentro Folklorico Panameño en USA, Viva Broward, and Hispanic Heritage at Doral, and in international venues like Feria Artesanal in Panama, Symphony of the Americas, PanamaFest, and many more. We participated in Premio Lo Nuestro in 2009 with Flex and Pewee, in 2013 with Juan Luis Guerra, and in “Celebrando Nuestra Reinas for Miss Universe” in 2019 and 2021. We have also been interviewed in local and nationwide TV shows such as Despierta America on Univision, Un Nuevo Dia for Telemundo, Tu Mañana (Panama), and 6 In The Mix for NBC.

6. What is the mission of Ballet Folklórico Aires Panameños?

Our mission is to spread and celebrate the beauty of Panamanian folklore through our music, dances, and traditions outside Panama’s boundaries.

7. Tell me about the traditional outfits you wear.

We have many diverse traditional outfits throughout the country, such as Basquiñas, Montunos, Montunas, Congo, Darienitas, Devils, and many more. The outfit that most people identify from Panama is our female National Dress of Excellence, the Pollera.

8. Tell us more about the Pollera.

This magnificent dress is entirely handmade; its creation takes at least nine months of work. The Pollera is a unique artistic creation with needlecraft in different techniques such as Zurcidas Calada (darning with open work), Marcadas (cross-stitch), Sombreadas (shaded, fabric on fabric), Bordadas (embroidery), with crochet braiding in lace or mundillo. It has two pieces: the wide skirt, known as the polleron, and the blouse.

The Tembleques on our heads are another distinctive and classic element that complements the Pollera. They imitate the flowers and animals of Panamanian flora and fauna and are made with elements of gold, pearls, fish scales, and precious stones. The beautiful jewels are the result of a vast tradition of goldsmiths with a deep-rooted culture brought from Europe. For the head, the Peineton (backcomb) and the side combs are made of tortoiseshell, an elaborate gold plate, and pearl and shimmer dangle. The Pajuela is made with gold, pearls, and filigree.

On our chest we wear: the Cabestrillo (crowned coins chain), the Cadena Chata (a series of interlinked gold scales from which dangles a small anchor), the Scapulary and the Rosary (representing our religious background), the Guachapali (shimmer chain with diamond-shaped scales ending in a fish divided in two), among others.

The leather shoes are decorated with satin, ribbons, gold buckles, and lace. The two enaguas (underskirts) are equally magnificent and handmade like the Pollera dress. A Gala Pollera, including its jewelry and accessories, can cost over thirty thousand dollars.

9. What dance traditions do you specialize in, and how did you learn these traditions? 

Our dances are mainly from Las Regiones de Azuero (Regions of Azuero), but we cover a little from most regions. I learned most about my culture and dances after moving to Miami and joining another Panamanian Dance group in 1990. Joining Aires Panameños has allowed me to expand my knowledge by communicating with folklorists in Panama and through research.

10. What do you enjoy most about teaching others about Panamanian dance and culture?

Many people don’t even know where or what Panama is. For others, it is just the Panama Canal. I proudly perform my traditions and let them know that we are not Panama City, Florida; we are a beautiful country in Central America and are much more than just the Panama Canal. We are a country bathed by two seas and a diversity of fauna and flora, with one of the largest reserves known as the Mesoamerican Lung Darien Gap (Tapón del Darién). We are a melting pot where people of many nationalities come together.

11. What do you enjoy most about performing these traditions?

Even though we became Americans and love this country, I believe you need to know your roots and identity to proudly represent your heritage. I enjoy seeing audiences’ reactions to our cultural costumes and intricate choreographies. Many people have questions and leave wanting to learn more about or even visit Panama. As an artist and cultural ambassador, it is fulfilling to see all our hard work pay off when we hear the applause and feel the butterflies in our stomachs.

12. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I would like to thank the HistoryMiami Museum for this great opportunity and trust in what we do. Also, I would like to thank all my dancers and our members for your support throughout these years. To our president Dr. Carrillo, for always helping and easing my ideas. Mom, you’re my role model; your unconditional love and support are priceless, thank you. To my husband and kids, thank you for all your patience, understanding, and support. I love you with all my heart; you are my motive in life.

Supported by the National Endowment for the Arts