LYNNWOOD, Wash., August 17, 2021 – Following a week of hard work and rehearsal, dance troupes Bailadores de Bronce and Herencias Mexicanas stunned audience members at Cedar Valley Gym on Sunday with traditional Mexican folk dances from Guerrero and Oaxaca.
Mexican dance legend Concepción Bello Nava (Conchita), the artistic director for the renowned Chilpancingo dance troupe Campañiade Danza Folklórica Xochicalli, arrived in Lynnwood a week ago to teach the groups three dances that represent the folklore and vibrant culture of these Mexican states. Since then, the groups have been meeting at Silver Creek Family Church for rehearsals where they practiced four hours every day before performing for the public on Sunday.
“It has been hard work, everything from wearing face masks to the hot weather, all the preparation…but I saw all the desire in the young people and how many traveled from so far to practice to dance and to share the passion and love for our culture,” Conchita told the Lynnwood Times. “I feel very happy and satisfied to bring my culture and tradition here with all these people around.”
Guerrero has seven regions in total. However, each of the three dances performed represented just three of those regions: Central, Costa Chica, and Tierra Caliente. All of the clothing worn by the dancers were woven to represent each respective region meticulously, including such details as the flowers that grow in each region.
Although the performance mostly featured dances that exhibit the culture of Guerrero, Conchita decided to close the show with a dance from Oaxaca to pay homage to the large community of Oaxacans living in Washington State.
The dance included pineapples as props, which, according to Conchita, represent friendship and offering. Pineapples are a local crop of the Oaxaca region. The gift-giving element was realized at the end of the performance when the pineapples were offered out to audience members, one to councilwoman Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, who helped organize the event.
“I’m very thankful to see all of the families that came to enjoy [the performance], and I’m thankful for everyone that helped put it together and to the city of Lynnwood to let us use the gym,” councilwoman Altamirano-Crosby told the Lynnwood Times. “Sometimes we forget our roots and this brings the connection [to] where we come from through the culture and how we can share that with others.”
Crosby, who was born in Guerrero, stated that she was so moved by the dances on the first day of rehearsal that she teared up in her car.
“My heart is just filled with joy,” Altamirano-Crosby said.
Councilman Jim Smith, like many of the 100-plus spectators, was blown away by the skill and execution of the dance troupes’ hard work and diligence.
“I was very impressed with all the dancers and was pleasantly surprised to learn they have only been working on this for six days,” Councilman Jim Smith told the Lynnwood Times. “It just goes to show the talent of all of the dancers and the teaching of the instructor. This whole thing was incredible.”
On September 14, 2020, Mayor Nicola Smith and Hector Astudillo Flores, Governor of Guerrero, appointed the city of Chilpancingo in Guerrero, Mexico, Lynnwood’s sister city. This relationship allowed the cities to cultivate international relationships, educational opportunities, trade, tourism, and art. The relationship also fosters cultural awareness between the people of both cities through international visits, exchange programs, humanitarian acts, and community events.
Less than a year later, as part of the Sister City program, Cecilia Garcia, Executive Director for Herencias Mexicanas, approached Adrian Olivas, Executive Director for Bailadores de Bronce, about bringing in a dance instructor from Guerrero. They reached out to councilwoman Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, who serves as liaison for the Sister City committee. Altamirano-Crosby worked with community members who brought Conchita to teach the two Washington-based dance groups some new techniques and refine their repertoire.
The event was organized by the Guerrero Association which is a connection between Guerrero and Washington State founded as part of the friendship between Guerrero and the city of Lynnwood.