Wearing traditional Mexican costumes and headpieces, six Pacifico Dancers performed on the Bowman High School quad Friday to promote cultural understanding among the student community.
Based in Los Angeles, the nonprofit, international dance company travels to schools throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties to enlighten diverse communities, provide insights into the Latino heritage and further an appreciation of present-day Mexico.
“The outreach program is done through The Music Center and schools have a list of performers to pick and choose from,” said Pacifico Dancer Lorena Meza, who has been with the company for seven years. “Every now and again we might get a request for something specific to perform, but it has to be in our repertoire.”
At Bowman, the Pacifico Dancers performed dances from five different Mexican states: Michoacan, Guerrero, Veracruz, Chihuahua and Jalisco.
“The majority of the students that we have that are coming from the states are coming from Michoacan and Guerrero, so today was very, very special because the students have the opportunity to go back to their roots,” said Rosa Villanueva, a bilingual assistant at Bowman who helped bring the Pacifico Dancers to the school.
For each dance, the performers sported costumes specific to the region and used their bodies and feet to tell stories and make their own music.
A dance from Michoacan, a single dancer performed to a happy and upbeat song while wearing a colorful costume and shaking a rattle. The dance represented a family celebrating the end of a harvest.
Another dance from Veracruz included a dancer dressed in a long white gown and a large comb who made music by stomping her feet.
Educators at Bowman noted that they hoped the performance taught students about a different culture and helped others reconnect to their roots.
“I am from Michoacan, my husband is from Guerrero, and I practice dance. I teach quinceaneras to dance and I’m very proud of my roots,” Villanueva said. “It’s very important right now because you hear a lot of things in the news and hear that it might not be good to head back. When you know there is good things you can make the connection, you can go back, you can still believe it and to still be proud. You can be any ethnicity and find the ways to be proud of that.”
The performers also hope their lesson and dances inspired others to pursue their passions, whether that is in dance or in another field.
“Within every art form and within a passion there’s hard work and dedication, but anything is possible,” Meza said. “As an adult, I’m a professional dancer and I didn’t think I was going to be one, I thought I was going to be a doctor. So as long as you follow your passion and your dreams, it can lead you down avenues you didn’t go down before.”
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