Dancing Kids Share Culture
October 3, 2012 • 960 views
By Sean Telles
San Gabriel, Ca –Ballet Folklorico classes offered are fun, educational, affordable, and fun.
Housed in the local non-profit La Casa de San Gabriel, Ballet Folklorico Sol de Fuego (roughly translated: Sun Fire Folk Dancing) offers children a chance to dance. With over 15 years of experience and based out of many San Gabriel Valley locations of the years, this dance troupe has found a home. Classes are open to all and are offered for a low donation or no tuition at all based upon need. The only requirement? Commitment.
Beyond fun, each dance offers an educational opportunity to learn about the regions of Latin America. For example, within Mexico each state has developed distinct styles. The desert climate of Northern Mexico is like the South of the United States where cowboy boots and hats are used to dance hard and fast. The Western coastal state of Sinaloa – famous for Mazatlan’s Carnival – has a cultural dance that is rowdy and loud. While in the South Eastern Mexican state of Veracruz a tropical culture has created a more light tradition in terms of costume fabric and color, and the dance is elegant and poised. Lastly, the Yucatan peninsula (think Cancun) has dances with lots of footwork and less upper body movement to allow for impressive balancing acts, such as dancing with bottles above the head.
“It’s a lot of story-telling. Most folk is story-telling,” says Executive Director Anamaria Lopez-Chavelas. She believes her work also fights negative stereotypes, instills discipline and commitment, promotes respect for the body, and teaches a person to honor culture and history. “It’s not easy. Not just a costume.”
Her daughter, Brenda Chavelas, who splits time between teaching in San Gabriel and the world-class performing arts school, The Colburn School, continued on the power of dancing. “Our type of dance is very cultural, but it’s also very welcoming.” She says that when a diverse group of kids start dancing together, their differences disappear. “They don’t see it. They just dance and have fun….It’s important to share our culture with others; it’s a gift that brings us together.”
The troupe has a long history and has performed at local locations such as the Arcadia Senior Center, San Gabriel Library, and the San Gabriel Mission Fiesta. Their current goal is to reach out to schools and neighboring communities to enhance cultural diversity by inviting students to participate.
For more information contact La Casa de San Gabriel Community Center at 626-286-2144.