MHA Folkloric Dance Group
The MHA Folkloric Dance Group was created in 1998 with the support of a matching grant by the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC). The matching grant covered the first two years of the dance group’s expenses. Its first artistic director was Mrs. Aurora Meraz, a skilled interpreter of Mexican folklore, and the dancers comprised of Gilberto Mazy, Silvia Mazy, Erika Vásquez, Jorge Enrique Maya, Zulma Cuadra, Gabriel Thomas, Rigoberto Murillo, and Victoria Scantlebury. The dance group made its first presentation on April 28th, 1999 during the International Night of Dance, an activity of the International Spring Festival hosted by Jackson State University, at the Alamo Theater.
- Other contributors include: the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Arts Alliance of Hinds County, and donations from businesses and individuals.
- Main objective: To showcase the music and folkloric dances of different Latin American countries in order to rouse awareness of the artistic beauty and diversity of Latin folklore.
As a branch of the Mississippi Hispanic Association, the MHA Folkloric Dance Group reflects the goals, concerns, and conceptual framework of the MHA as a non-profit entity dedicated to awakening awareness and educating the public, as well as its members, about Latin American culture through the “lens” of the performing arts. The dance group aims to promote Latin American folklore in Mississippi.
Concept & Beliefs
All dance is cultural practice. While many dances invoke universal themes, the specific manifestation of particular techniques and styles of dance are always rooted in the beliefs and values of a group of people situated in a defined place and time. Acquiring insight to cultural and historical dance entails learning the who, what, when, why, and how of the dances—ultimately, the essentials of any cultural group. Dance, on its own, entails learning discipline and the skills necessary for making and presenting dances, as well as nurturing creative thinking skills. The creative process in dance simply clarifies personal ideas through the public “language” of dance. As such, MHA profoundly believes the language of dance is the most comprehensive method for promoting the color, happiness, and beauty of Latin American culture while providing its participants an outlet for cultural pride.
- To educate about Latin American culture through the “lens” of the performing arts;
- To provide volunteers of Hispanic background with affordable, valuable dance instruction;
- To provide volunteers of Hispanic background the means for developing self-esteem, self-expression, and creativity by encouraging learning, leadership, and discipline via dance;
- To provide leadership and networking opportunities for Latin youth; and
- To encourage community unity through collective learning experiences and celebrations of dance and culture
Since the conclusion of the matching grant by MAC, the MHA has continued to sponsor the dance group. All of the group’s participants are on a volunteer basis. Please contact an MHA officer if interested in joining the MHA Folkloric Dance Group.