In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, the student body of Tyler ISD’s Birdwell Dual Language Immersion School filled the campus auditorium with applause, shouts and amazement at a dance performance featuring a variety of Hispanic cultures.
Cinco de Mayo was in full swing at Birdwell as students were presented with pre-Columbian, Chapa, Veracruz, Costa de Nayarit and Polka style dances by Dallas-based dance group Mexico 2000 Ballet Folklorico.
The event, held Thursday afternoon, was thanks to Young Audiences of North East Texas and Tyler ISD Visual Performing Arts, who both funded the performance at Birdwell, said Katie McBain, a music teacher at Birdwell.
McBain said the event was a great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, especially for students, as they know English and Spanish and most are familiar with the culture.
“We just thought this event would be a perfect fit for us, especially today on Cinco de Mayo, especially for Birdwell being a bilingual immersion school. All of these kids are bilingual and many of them have Mexican heritage, so we thought this show would be perfect for us,” she said.
Alex Palencia, director of Mexico 2000 Ballet Folklorico, said the dance group, which works in partnership with Young Audiences of North East Texas, has been coming to Tyler for about 10 to 12 years.
Palencia, who also owns a dance school with his wife Mary, teaches cultural dances to the younger generation and said educational dance performances, which he calls “Fiestas de Mexico”, are an important thing to incorporate.
“I think there’s a bigger Hispanic population these days, so I think it’s important for them to know that their culture is alive and also here. For a lot of Mexicans who live here, they have to s ‘identify and remember that their traditions exist and they can keep them alive,’ he said.
By doing educational shows, Palencia believes others should be open to surrounding cultures and traditions, which are open for everyone to learn and enjoy, he said.
He also added how traditions allow others to be unique in their own way.
“I encourage others to discover their own traditions because that’s what makes them different and special,” he said.