¡Happy Cinco De Mayo!
I recently sat in a rehearsal with the Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, a fantastic group of talented dancers that proudly represents the Mexican traditional culture in dance and music. Mexican folk dance is heavily influenced by Native-American, European, Caribbean, and African cultures and Calpulli showcases all of these styles beautifully. With a very energetic (and very pregnant) Noemy Hernandez leading the rehearsal, artistic director of the company, the group stepped into character and transported me to a sun-bathed square in an old, Mexican cowboy village. Heavy, colorful, never-ending-amounts-of-fabric skirts that the women wore were bewitching – the movements and the flow of the material kept me transfixed. The men’s country hats tipped back and forth with their heads nodding side to side – the imitation of a tired, old man stomping his feet and clicking his heels were comical and amusing. But the dance is what tells the story, and this is why Calpulli exists: To continue that tradition of storytelling in music and dance to the next generation of Mexican-Americans.
I attended an adult class at the Calpulli Dance School in Queens with Pilar Maez (for the full story on my experience in the class, go to Greatist.com). Though I had a wonderful time dancing in the class and learning the various styles of Mexican traditional dance (Jalisco and Mexican Polka), what was even more inspiring was seeing the kids coming out of their own classes in shiny, patent-leather tap shoes and glowing with self-satisfaction. Alberto Lopez, director of Capulli’s Youth Program, leads the donation-based children’s classes offered at the school. A strong community outreach program, Calpulli is not just there to entertain but also to educate and to nurture talent and tradition; my adult class was taught entirely in Spanish, as most of the other students had their kids taking classes with Alberto in the next room. Families come together to share, learn, and maintain a part of their culture that I am always biased to – music and dance.
THE BARE FEET FIVE™
1. Calpulli Classes: Calpulli offers adult and children’s classes every weekend in Staten Island and Queens. Children’s classes are donation-based, and with all of their classes offered, everyone is welcome! For more information, go to CalpulliDance.org.
2. Other classes: Calpulli is not limited to dance classes – they have begun offering music classes as well and instruction in accordion! For more information on upcoming classes, click here!
3. Cinco de Mayo: This American-born holiday which celebrates Mexican heritage is a day of celebration! For some great fiestas in NYC, click here!
4. The Perfect Margarita: Check out the NY Daily News’s article on the perfect Margarita (also includes a list of the best Margarita bars in the US!)
5. Learn Spanish: The Earworms system of learning a new language is fantastic – it incorporates music with instruction! Lessons in Spanish available on iTunes!