LA CULTURA CURA: In the Face of Extreme Social and Political Unrest, Youth Can Find Safety and Healing in Their Roots

On a cool September evening, dozens of Latinx school children dressed in bright, embroidered Mesoamerican dance costumes gather at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. Their parents braid sashes through long hair and straighten belt buckles. Younger children play video games on smartphones while older ones gossip.

Then comes a call to attention from their dance teacher, Rocio Bermudez, founding director of the local folkloric dance troupe De Colores. The kids gather in a circle, holding hands as she recites a pre-performance blessing. They raise their arms together in one triumphant cheer. Minutes later, they file across the stage, boots stomping, skirts and hats twirling. They dance joyfully and confidently to the sound of songs passed down through generations.

“When you dance you feel powerful, like you know everything,” says 10-year-old Camila Benicio.

“When I dance, I’m not afraid of what people say or how they bully because I believe I’m bigger and more important than that,” seconds Camila’s 13-year-old brother Diego Benicio. “My friends in the Mexican dance troupe support me when I’m down. We know we’re a big family and we’re stronger together.”

Read more By JULIENNE GAGE at Progress Report