Students learn about cultures through dance

By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer

Students entertained and taught their families about the history of the dances Wednesday at James Elementary School as part of Festival Primavera.

Some 55 students performed regional dances from Mexico as a part of the dual language program at the school. The students covered Mexican, American and other national dances.

“I’m nervous,” Irma Blanco, 9, said. “It is fun because you learn the steps and the rhythm.”

Jakeb Lopez, 9, said learning to dance helped him in learning about Mexico and other cultures.

Duel languages teacher Dolores Garcia said students and parents look forward to the dances.

“The girls want to twirl in their dresses and want to wear the big hats,” Garcia said. “It takes a lot of work to teach them to count the steps, smile and move their hands at the same time.”

The students from Garcia’s class performed dances from three states in Mexico: The Chiapanes from Chiapas, Jarabe Tapatio, Culebra, Machetes from Jalisco and Iguana from Guerre.

“It is a new world for some of them and I am delighted to take them there,” Garcia said. “Every year I want to keep expanding and show more of the Mexican folklore dances. It is a nice activity for the end of the year for them to celebrate their success.”

Garcia said it all started when a parent asked if she was going to teach the students some dances. Garcia didn’t know any at that time so the parent showed her a dance and she passed that down to the students in her first year.

Now the performances are an annual event.

“I try to start teaching them sometime in January because there are so many students,” Garcia said. “We count our steps and go with the music so that we can teach them the beat and counts.”

Garcia said that they work to celebrate all cultures and learn about them. Students from another third-grade class performed American dances.

Parent Erika Sigala said she thought the performances were nice.

“All of the students had a part in it,” Sigala said. “They seem to get some history out the dances they are working on throughout the year so that helped to understand the meaning of the dances.”