“Thank you. Thank you for letting us dance,” a performer from the group called Taquiri said to me on side stage after having performed. It was very important for her, who apparently did not speak English comfortably, to get that message across.
Fiesta is a celebration of diversity of culture throughout the hispanic and latino cultures. For 25 years the Hispanic League has promoted education, health, community inclusion, and multicultural understanding through this festival. Full of arts, crafts, dance, music and food from countries such as Argentina, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and more, it brings people from all Spanish-speaking countries to enjoy great food and an even greater day.
Professor Hosang Yoon was the one to get me involved volunteering backstage. He said the celebration of hispanic culture is integral to the community. “El entendimiento multicultural contribuye a la desegregación y el respeto por la diversidad, lo que permite que los miembros de una comunidad multicultural formen un tejido compuesto de colores con el que todos se puedan identificar y del que todos puedan estar orgullosos.”
“Multicultural understanding contributes to desegregation and the respect for diversity, allowing members of a multicultural community to form a fabric made up of colors that everyone can identify with and that everyone can be proud of.”
Each of the acts that I had the pleasure of helping backstage–Alejandro Gálvez of Grupo Painalli, Taquiri, Stephanie Arcos and Teresa Gonzalez–were all grateful to be able to share part of themselves and their talent with the community.
Alejandro Gálvez of Grupo Painalli from Charlotte was introduced by saying that “…mantiene la tradición oral [de México]… Aprende a confeccionar y tocar unos de los instrumentos tradicionales y a bailar danzas ceremoniales.” Which translates to: he maintains the oral traditions of Mexico by learning how to make and play traditional instruments and to dance ceremonial dances. For him, performing is about informing the audience. He had instruments and toys to share with children in order to inspire them to ask about their heritage.
The second group to perform was introduced by an emcee who called himself John. “This is Taquiri. Taquiri means: who creates music and dance [in Quechua]. The purpose of this group is to show the Latin American culture through dance.” And that they did. With six different dances, including el joropo, la cumbia and la marinera, this group made up of members of all ages worked hard to showcase the art that means so much to them.
The final group that I prepared for backstage was made up of two Salem students: Stephanie Arcos and Teresa Gonzalez. As Arcos played her guitar, the two sang songs such as “Mala suerte” and “Corre” by Jesse and Joy, “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias, and “No me doy por vencido” by Luis Fonsi. They shared their talents and the small crowd at the Indie Stage roared for them as they finished.
Backstage, though hectic and loud, is an outstanding view from which to see the performers because as they come offstage, it is apparent on their faces what sharing a part of themselves means. Fiesta is a vehicle for multicultural understanding and sharing different ethnic origins, but it is also a place to come together. The performers, as evidenced by the wave of enthusiasm from the onlookers, not only foster understanding from one culture to another, but they bring the people of Winston-Salem closer together. Teresa Gonzalez said about why she chose to volunteer that “I… want the Latinx community to realize that their girls are going to college, we’re involved in the arts, we take up volunteering positions, and we’re thriving.”