The group of kindergarteners and first-graders are one of six groups of local students learning cultural dances under the direction of Olivia Estevez Gonzalez from Crows Landing.
Gonzalez teaches the children four days a week in preparation for their upcoming dance appearances.
The 72 students in kindergarten through eighth-grade who practice each day are preparing to showcase cultural diversity to those who choose to attend the community’s various festivities.
The youngsters will travel to Von Renner School in Newman on May 3 and then make three appearances locally in May at the Multicultural Day at Walnut Grove on Friday, May 16, the American Cancer Society Relay for Life on May 17 and the Patterson Apricot Fiesta on May 31.
The 5 and 6-year-old kindergarteners and first-graders on stage on Thursday all echoed the same sentiment during practice as their friend Alonso Apolinar.
“I’m in the dance because I like to dance,” Alonso said.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez, whose own grown children attended schools in Gustine and Newman, says it is a blessing to volunteer for the youth.
“I love to participate and improve on the things that make a difference for individuals and the community,” Gonzalez said. “Through this work, I’m intending for more people to come forward to maintain and promote other ethnic roots and cultures. That’s really what I want to do. There’s so much richness in the diversity of cultures. The more we learn the more we understand each other.”
Also in the mix are the second-graders, who will depict men working in the sugar cane with the dance “Los Machetes.” The third-graders will dance to “La Raspa,” featuring a mix of different songs. The fourth- and fifth-graders will present a polka, “Jesusita En Chihuahua,” with a Polish and German influence. The sixth-seventh-and eighth-graders will dance the Mexican Hat Dance, “El Jarabe Tapatio.”
Contact Maddy Houk at 892-6187, ext. 22, or firstname.lastname@example.org.