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Sharing Culture Through Dance


San Miguel Elementary students are learning about Latin culture through two dance programs, Danza Folklorica, and Latin Rhythms.

Danza Folklorica is a traditional Mexican folk dance. Parent leaders garnered PTA support and funding to bring the Danza Folklorica program to San Miguel last spring. One parent, Elsa Nunez, drove to Mexico to purchase the skirts! The PTA also provides shoes and scholarships for class fees.

The classes are taught by Ashley López, the director of Los Laureles, a leading dance school in San Jose. The first session of classes began in the Spring of 2022. Word spread about the class quickly, and over 50 students enrolled. Due to the high volume of students, many parent volunteers were needed to help coordinate the effort. The students performed at the end of the session.

“When you watch Danza Folklorica recitals at San Miguel, the faces of students are full of joy and pride—and so are the faces in the audience,” said parent Katie Rowland.

Danza Folklorica was such a success that the parents decided to bring another form of Latin dance to San Miguel to promote Latin American culture and physical activity. So the PTA partnered with another thriving dance school, Volaré Studios in Santa Clara, directed by Marianela Calonje, to bring Latin Rhythms to San Miguel. Forty students enrolled in the program.

Both dance programs performed in San Miguel’s annual Winterland Festival in December and will continue in the spring.

“I never thought my girls would have the chance to do the same dances as their grandmas,” said another parent who has fourth and second graders participating in the program. “It’s really special.”

“The significance of these classes is profound because it validates Latin American culture in our community, it showcases the vibrancy of the Spanish language and Latin music, and builds confidence in our students. Furthermore, it’s not only popular among our Latinx students, but others as well. Many extracurricular opportunities are inaccessible to our students, considering we are a Title 1 school, but our PTA has worked to provide scholarships so that these dance programs, and other enrichment programs, are more affordable to our students,” said Nicole Fiala, Assistant Principal, San Miguel Elementary.

Article by Lighthouse Blue Communications Consultant Dyan Chan.

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