By: Gladys I. Figueroa Toro
December 6 of 2011
Format: Historical/ Profile
In the Hispanic world, dances are a fusion of cultures. They’re a mix of the indigenous African and European cultures. It is the way to bring friends and family together to release everyday stress.
According to the website Pequelia, “music and dance are significantly favoring many aspects of physical and intellectual development. They are activities that help release tension. Simply use the right type of music for a child to express their feelings through dance. It is efficient to use music with moved rhythms that also satisfies their need for movement.”
It’s mainly focused on kids since they are in full development and feel the group pressure starting. According to Ehow.com, different dance groups and organizations were created for kids, so they wouldn’t spend lots of unsupervised time alone or with friends; instead they can enjoy learning and have fun in safe and nurturing environments.
An example of these kinds of groups is Three Generations Ballet (Ballet Tres Generaciones) in San German, Puerto Rico, which stands for children, youths and adults. Its main purpose is to integrate the fine arts in their lives and develop their talent and values.
The group was created by Jose Alvarez in 2005 and it is currently directed by Zuliemit Rivera Pagan, who is also the choreographer of the University of Puerto Rico band in Mayagüez.
It consists of dance, singing (sometimes it includes a live orchestra), theater (that also includes black theater), music and visual arts. To join the group, you have to pass an audition which is held twice a year.
“I have been part of the group for three years; I always loved to dance every type of dancing, more than singing and acting. It is a good way to interact with other groups, which helps us to be more sociable,” said Andrew Velez, the 15 year old member of the group Three Generations.
The group counts with 66 integrant and they mainly dance salsa, seis (the most popular of all musical airs that sings and dances to our peasant), plena (one of the most popular musical genres in Puerto Rico) and some of Broadway. The last they did was an interpretation of Mary Poppins and the group benefits the community by offering a free program to help keep youths out of hostile environments and relieve social and cultural stress.
“The most important part of being in a group like this is all the experiences we obtain from it. People in the group have been really friendly”, said Andrew Velez.
They rehearse every day and are divided in age groups: the little giants are from 8 to 11, juniors from 12 to 15, juveniles from 15 to 28 and adults from 28 and over. They all perform different choreographies and sometimes they integrate them. The age doesn’t matter, as long as they have a folkloric focus and remain versatile.
Rehearsals are tough and serious, they require hard work and it is not to go and joke around; even though a high level of discipline and orderliness is maintained, one can sense the warmth and happiness among group members. The members give everything to improve their dances; this includes the little kids that dance.
One advantage is that Zuliemit, the director, works with each member individually to strengthen their weakness and offer them self-esteem workshops, make-up and costume making.
“I like everything about this group but what I love most is to be able to reinforce their values to make them better people and improve their cultural values”, said Zuliemit Rivera.
All their hard work is put into two recitals that happen annually. They also participate in contests in parades and carnivals. They have won five of them, one in Ponce, Guayama, Toa Alta and Guaynabo. (Where did you get this information from? Always use appropriate attribution.)
The last performance was on November 19, 2011, which attracted all kinds of people, in the celebration of La Tea Ayer y Hoy in the community of La Tea in San Germán, Puerto Rico. The purpose of the celebration was to announce the coming of Christmas. There were artisans selling antique pieces and pictures of the country, food, drinks, live music and dancing.
“Christmas for Puerto Rican people is celebrated in big proportions and is the time of the year when the folk dance is performed frequently” said Zuliemit.
Since Christmas season is around the corner, the dance group performed several songs of plena, salsa, modern carnival and the typical play of Juan Bobo, which is a typical humble, dumb character of Puerto Rico.
The ceremony started with the traditional character Juan Bobo, followed by plena, salsa, Mary Poppins from Broadway, a mix of modern songs like “Rolling
in the Deep” of Adele and closed with a modern carnival.
The basketball bleachers were full to their capacity, and during the show the environment was filled with lots of joy and excitement. People were singing, clapping and showing their Christmas spirit.
Dancing builds a person; it helps to reinforce values to make the best of people like the actor from the popular dance movie Step Up 3, Adam G. Sevani, said: “People dance because dance can change things. One move can bring people together. One move can make you believe like there’s something more. One move can set a whole generation free.”
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