An active dance group on campus is showing how different cultural backgrounds can unite through dance and performance.
Los Danzantes de Aztlán is the Fresno State folkloric dance group that was founded in 1970 through the department of Chicano and Latin American studies. The dance group serves as a way for students to come together and learn different styles of dance from the states in Mexico.
“You get to learn that Mexico is diverse on its own, so bringing that culture into the university so people are exposed to it and learn about it brings more awareness to how diverse each country really can be,” Mayra Aceves said.
Aceves is the current president of the dance group and serves as director Dr. Victor Torres’ assistant. She is a graduate student in the school counseling program and has been dancing with Los Danzantes for four years.
Aceves said having dance groups like Los Danzantes and other cultural groups on campus is a way to bring respect and appreciation for different cultures.
“It’s been a learning experience from being a part of the dance group,” Aceves said.
Aceves and the other dancers are preparing for performances in March and April, like Preview Day and at the Cesar Chavez celebration in the Peace Garden at the end of March.
The group will also be hosting the 11th annual El Festival de Los Danzantes on April 7-9 on campus. Instructors and dancers from Mexico and other parts of California will hold workshops to teach participants – from 4 to 60 years of age – different dances from Mexico.
The festival is open to the community, and the workshops will teach dances from states such as Zacatecas, Jalisco and Michoacán.
Juvenal Moctezuma, a double major in international business and Chicano and Latin American studies and the group’s vice president said he is looking forward to seeing kids come to the festival and enjoy learning the dances.
“I really like how the people can take the dances that they learn and perform at our festival and teach them to other groups of dancers,” Moctezuma said.
A concert gala is planned for Saturday night of the festival in the Satellite Student Union. On Sunday, workshop participants will showcase what they’ve learned.
“It’s a great way to promote that Fresno State has a strong folklorico group,” Estevan Parra said. “There are networking opportunities, and we can promote higher education to the high school students that participate.”
Parra is an educational leadership and administration graduate studies student who has danced with Los Danzantes since 2009. He said he is looking forward to seeing everyone come together for the festival and appreciate the cultural value.
Anyone interested in participating can register online on the dance group’s website dezantesdeaztlan.org until March 17.