Sharing their culture

Latino club has been active for 19 years in the cultural community

Senior+Anna+Martinez+looks+down+at+senior+David+Saravia+as+they+finish+dancing+during+practice+after+school+on+Tuesday%2C+Jan.+29.
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Sharing their culture

Senior Anna Martinez looks down at senior David Saravia as they finish dancing during practice after school on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

Senior Anna Martinez looks down at senior David Saravia as they finish dancing during practice after school on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

Photo by Marissa Redding

Senior Anna Martinez looks down at senior David Saravia as they finish dancing during practice after school on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

Photo by Marissa Redding

Photo by Marissa Redding

Senior Anna Martinez looks down at senior David Saravia as they finish dancing during practice after school on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

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As the light appears on the stage, women dressed in colorful dresses walk out and get into position. They place their hands on their skirts and clinch the fabric. The music plays, signaling them to start dancing.

The Latino club held a Cinco De Mayo performance in 2000 for the first time. English teacher Lois Hardaway started helping out with the Latino club in 2002 and is now the club’s main adviser. Nineteen years later, they are putting on 12 to 16 performances per year, including the Cinco De Mayo performance. At the beginning of each school year, club members inform students who are interested in joining that they will be dancing traditional Mexican dances from the start of the meetings.

“[It] doesn’t matter how inexperienced [the new club members] are and it’s better if they’re inexperienced at it because if they have no experience, it’s easier to teach them from the very beginning,” Hardaway said. “We really all started out knowing absolutely nothing about the [dances] and we really know where [the new students are] coming from, we know how they feel when they get frustrated.”

During training, the female students hold the practice skirts in their hands to learn the movements of the dance and work their way up to dancing the full costume. Club members work together to make the performance the best they can. When the performance comes up, they make sure their outfits are perfect. The girls put their hair in a bun and add flowers throughout it. All of them put on the traditional outfits creating an authentic aesthetic.

“[The uniforms are] a step back into the past of our culture and bringing [our culture] back out to our generation now,” club president senior Anna Martinez said.

Two years ago, senior Johana Rodriguez attended the Cinco De Mayo performance and was inspired by the students on stage. After the show was over, she realized she too can perform like them. During her junior year, she joined Latino club and has been performing ever since.

“The story behind [the performance], the way the audience receives it in a way [is amazing],” Rodriguez said. “When we go and perform in front of the little kids, they look up to [us] and they’re like, ‘wow!’”

The club orders their costumes from Mariachi Connection in San Antonio. The students raise money via candy sales every year so they can wear good quality costumes.

“We keep the costumes throughout the years so the next students can use them,” Hardaway said. “[Therefore, it’ll] cost [students] absolutely nothing to dance.

Ever since she was in elementary school, Martinez wanted to be a performer. She has been performing her whole life but joined the Latino club after Hardaway reintroduced it to her. Martinez’s older sister was performing in the Cinco De Mayo dance when she realized performing is her passion.

“[It’s just] a part of me, a part of all of us in Latino club [because] we’re showing a piece of our culture even though some of our students aren’t [fully] Latino,” Martinez said. “We just share our culture with everyone.”

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