Fullerton College was a place of danza on Tuesday, March 20 as the Groupo Toyaacan came to lecture and dance.
The Aztec dancers’ presentation stunned students, many whom brought their families, and teachers with their articulate dance moves and proud instruments.
Gerald Padilla, ethnic studies professor at FC, along with Carlos Daniel Jiménez, Aztec Danza musician and dancer, joined together to not only perform, but to also educate.
“A lot of times when you go see this type of dancing, it’s just a performance,” said Padilla. “Whereas what they did here was they lecture, they demonstrated, and they performed.”
The event was a bigger success than its predecessor two years ago; it was surprising but very welcomed.
“It went really, really well. Excellent,” said Padilla.
The event largely exceeded Padilla’s expectations, mostly due to the fact that not only did many students attend but also many brought their families.
“We had a lot of parents come in, I always tell my students, invite your parents,” said Padilla. “It was great to see the parents.”
Students, teachers and parents were able to enjoy some traditional drinks and food, such as horchata, pan dulce and chips and salsa while the presentation went on.
Jiménez lead the presentation introducing each of the eight dancers, many of whom have never attended a presentation like this one.
“I can dance in front of one hundred people, but when it comes to talking, I’m like ‘no,’” joked Christina Calvillo, Aztec Dancer.
Calvillo has been heavily impacted by Aztec dancing since she was eight years old.
“It was all about the dancing part for me,” said Calvillo. “I fell in love with the ‘tambores,’ it was so powerful because that’s your mom’s heartbeat.
“That’s where it all starts.”
Calvillo is not the only dancer inspired to make danza a career.
Fatima Acuna, Aztec dancer, started off as a folklorico dancer when she was nine-years-old, but once she found Aztec danza, she never went back.
“I never went back to folklorico again because I felt I enjoyed the structure of danza more,” Acuna said. “Folklorico is more about presentation.”
Jimenez’s main hope for the event was that all who attended the event would leave with an understanding of what danza means to them, because he felt there wasn’t enough being done while he was at Fullerton College.
“I feel like there wasn’t a lot of incorporation of different ethnic groups in our education,” Jimenez added. “What I really, really hope is that everyone takes in the positive view of our culture, and the positive view of who we are, and knowledge and appreciate our art and our dances.”
Acuna also expressed her hope of this event’s influence.
“I really want to have everyone demystify the fact that ‘oh you’re Aztec, so I can’t do that,'” said Acuna. “No, its all inclusive, even if it’s not your heritage. I really want students, especially at this age, to get involved with their heritage knowing that it’s okay to love who you are, and it’s okay to be proud of who you are.”