Ballet Folklorico De Antioch – Restoring Pride and Building Confidence in our Latinx Communities

Area of Focus: Basic Education & Literacy, Cultural Traditions

Lead Club Name: Antioch

Lead Rotarian: Schneiderman, Milanka

Year: 2021-22

Project Budget: $8,818.93

DDF Grant Amount: $3,090.00

Antioch Unified School District has a dance program called Ballet Folklorico de Antioch that needs help with a dance floor and a number of costumes. Ballet Folklorico is a cultural Mexican form of dance. Normally accompanied by Mariachi or some Mexican regional music group, these dances are performed in shoes like tap shoes while dressed in outfits representing the region, they are dancing. These dances are broken down into various regions of Mexico such as Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo Leon, Durango, Chiapas, Veracruz, Aguascalientes, Huasteco, Guerrero, and many more. These dances are precious memories and traditions for students to uphold, being passed from generation to generation. They are dances that connect our students to their culture and families. We have included in our grant, a PowerPoint presentation from Antioch Middle School music teacher Sarah Phelan, cost estimates for the costumes and the dance floor. According to music teacher Sarah Phelan, “Ballet Folklorico is not only a traditional form of dance that most Latinos know of but is a connection that is shared from teacher to student to parent. Many of their parents danced here in the U.S or in their countries of origin. It helps build community and brings more parents onto campus, meeting staff and participating in school events. This group has strong standards and requirements. Our dancers must not only perform well on the stage, but in their classroom and out in the community. They must have a 2.5 GPA to perform and must have a clean discipline record, checked quarterly. They are representatives of their school and culture. They not only learn to dance but learn of the stories behind the dances. The class is taught Bilingual which is another great asset for our English Language Learners. Our students in ELD are not able to take electives in AUSD. This is one of the few after school programs that allows them to opportunity to participate in the performing arts.”. Antioch Unified School District has large hispanic population of approximately 47%. We are asking for a grant to build their wood dance floor as well as costumes for the dances. Before the pandemic, there were 30 dancers in the program, but now the program will be expanded to the entire school district (over 16,000 students in total), open to grades 3 to 12. The music teacher has a goal of 60 students, but this program could rapidly grow given the size of the Latinx population in AUSD. We estimate 6,000 Hispanic students in grades 3 to 12.

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