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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Danzantes Del Alma’s 45th annual show celebrates the vibrancy and diversity of Mexican culture

UC Davis’ folklórico group serves as a home away from home for many students 

 

By LAILA AZHAR — features@theaggie.org 

 

A week before Danzantes Del Alma’s annual show, Michelle Mendoza, a fourth-year design and communications double major and the group’s publicity chair, described the energy that went into the production of the show. 

“We’ve had our moments of stress and overwhelmedness and chaos,” Mendoza said. “It’s all been there, but I’m finally at peace. I’m ready for it all to come together and to see the excitement on everyone’s faces.” 

When the group took the Mondavi Center’s stage on April 27, the production was a vibrant display of the members’ dedication and passion, and just as Mendoza had predicted, the excitement was palpable. 

The production showcased music and dance from a variety of regions in Mexico, from Chiapas to Yucatán to Veracruz. Before each group of performers took the stage, introductions for each region were made in both Spanish and English. 

Each group of dancers took the stage with wide smiles and colorful costumes. The crowd was full of energy, as people clapped and cheered along with the music. When the curtain closed in between performances, audience members called out the names of their friends and family members in the show. 

This year marked Danzantes Del Alma’s 45th annual show. The group, which is a student retention program housed under the Cross Cultural Center, has been a part of the UC Davis campus since 1977. The club is officially a folklórico troupe, a term that encompasses a variety of traditional Mexican dances. However, their impact goes beyond the stage. 

“I came from a town with a lot of people that I shared my ethnic background with,” Arlene Cisneros, a third-year psychology and human development double major and the group’s academic chair, said. “Not that there aren’t people here that do. I just immediately felt that this is a new place for me, a new city. I had never moved away. I knew I wanted to find community, and Danzantes Del Alma has been that for me.” 

The group has served as a home away from home for many students. As Cisneros put it, “Everyone has a genuine interest in supporting one another, whether that’s in the dance studio or personally or academically.” 

Along with providing an outlet to current students, Danzantes Del Alma has also played a role in prospective students’ decision to attend UC Davis. 

“I know many people whose decision to come to Davis was because we had an established folklórico group,” Mendoza said.  

While the club is a tight-knit community, one of their goals is to highlight and celebrate the diversity within the group. 

“Each single region is different, but it plays such an important role in the traditions and culture,” Maya Medina, a fourth-year biological sciences and Chicano studies double major and the group’s show chair, said. “That’s so important to our group as well, all of the diversity, even within Mexico. It goes beyond what is most often portrayed.” 

With the theme of this year’s show, “Celebraciones Del Alma,” the group hoped to emphasize the importance of taking time to appreciate celebrating with loved ones. 

“We get so caught up in very valid important stuff — there’s work, there’s life, there’s school,” Mendoza said. “But with spring quarter and the theme of our show, I feel like it’s important to celebrate hanging with your loved ones, your friends, just enjoying the party of life.” 

Danzantes Del Alma’s 45th annual show served as a testament to the profound impact that the group has had on its members. 

As the group continues to showcase the beauty and diversity of Mexican culture to the wider UC Davis community, it’s clear that Danzantes Del Alma will continue to leave a lasting impact on its students for generations to come. 

 

Written by: Laila Azhar — features@theaggie.org 

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