Colorful tradition continues
The Al Tahoe Folklorico dancers are offering the sometimes-culturally deprived town of South Lake Tahoe a slice of Mexican culture.
Under the direction of instructor Socorro Wackenhut, 25 boys and girls from Al Tahoe Elementary School have learned the art of Folklorico.
“Somebody gave me the opportunity to learn when I was young and so I want to teach it to them,” said Wackenhut, originally from Guadalajara, Mexico. “Some have the rhythm and for some it’s hard to learn, but I still keep them because I feel if I don’t give them the opportunity, no one will.”
Traditional Mexican dancing is the focus of the program, though most of the kids say their favorite part is wearing authentic Folklorico costumes.
“I have just enough costumes right now,” said Wackenhut. “I get them in Mexico.”
Each state in Mexico is known for a different kind of dance and its own style of clothing, according to Wackenhut.
“I like the dances from Jalisco and from Vera Cruz,” she said. “Vera Cruz has the pure, white dresses and the girls carry flowers in their hands.”
Some of the Al Tahoe dancers also wear bright, multi-colored dresses or gold-threaded sombreros.
“I think it’s important to teach kids about the different cultures,” Wackenhut said. “And they feel like they are so important, especially when they dress up. They feel so proud and it is such a joy for me to watch them (dance.)”
And the kids seem to be enjoying themselves, too.
“It’s fun when we practice,” sixth-grader Misael Garcia said. “Sometimes we get candies after we practice, and Socorro is a good teacher.”
Fourth-grader Risa Welsh, a first-year Folklorico dancer, said she likes learning the origins of the various dances.
“The dancing is fun,” Welsh said. “(Wackenhut) teaches us how to do the dancing and where the dances come from.”
Fifth-grader Quetzalcoat Quintero, a third-year dancer, said Folklorico has taught him a lot.
“We talk about the dances and about what the fifth of May means,” said Quintero, who pointed out why dancing with girls can be bothersome. “They hit us with their dresses.”
After practicing twice a week, for three months, Wackenhut’s students are ready for their big Cinco de Mayo performance.
“It’s our fund-raiser,” Wackenhut said, “so I can buy more costumes and more kids can get involved.”
The Cinco de Mayo celebration begins Friday, May 5, at 5 p.m. at Al Tahoe Elementary School. There will be food, activities, prizes, entertainment and of course, dancing.
The Al Tahoe Folklorico program is also accepting monetary donations. For information, call Wackenhut at 543-2310.
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