Dancing without cultural barriers

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Dancing without cultural barriers

More than 700 Fresno State students over 32 years have performed in the annual cultural folklorico show “Christmas in México.” The show merges cultural elements of Las Posadas and traditional dance and music, creating a fun, family-oriented event to celebrate Mexican culture at Fresno State.

Dressed in traditional folklorico costumes, a rebozo, brightly colored ruffled skirts, huipils, guayaberas, bandanas and hats, students perform several dances from Mexico. Surprising to some, not all dancers identify as Hispanic.

“Los Danzantes introduced me to the Hispanic culture,” Ben Thongsaone said. “I’ve learned about the heritage, the culture, the beauty of Hispanics. I’m Asian American and for them to welcome me into their world and their culture is amazing.”

Thongsaone started dancing folklorico in high school because it was the only dance group available. He says his family was surprised but supported him. He and Pader Vue, who is Hmong, say they’ve learned to embrace the Mexican culture through dance. 

“I look forward to seeing everyone and dancing with them. When I come here, I don’t see them as they’re Mexican and I’m Asian. I see them as one whole family and we come here to do one thing. We come here to dance together,” Vue said.

Dr. Victor Torres, Chicano and Latin American studies professor and Los Danzantes de Aztlán director, said the dance group is open to all ethnicities and majors. He enjoys seeing their growth as dancers but also personal growth.

“It’s always satisfactory to me to watch them become young professionals. I notice the maturity and the sense of responsibility,” Torres said.

Los Danzantes will present the 32nd annual “Christmas in Mexico” performance from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Satellite Student Union at Fresno State.

Torres began directing the show in 1997 and strongly believes in the importance of hosting the show on campus to encourage young attendees to consider going to college in the future. 

Alongside Fresno State’s troupe, Los Danzantes de Aztlán, folkloric performers of all ages throughout Fresno County will perform including dancers from Juvenil, Central High School, Clovis High, Fresno High, Fresno City College and more.

Tickets are $10 presale, $12 at the door and $5 for Fresno State students. They can be purchased at Tacos Marquitos, Pepa’s Mexican Restaurant, or from any Danzante de Aztlán member.  

The show is sponsored by the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department and the College of Social Sciences with support from the Instructionally Related Activities grant by the Associated Students, Inc. 

For more information, contact Dr. Victor Torres at 559.278.4115 or losdanzantesdeaztlan@gmail.com.

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