“Dance Night” Prelude to “Bridging Cultures: The Latino Community in Manassas” Exhibit

Folkloric dance is perhaps the most popular expression of cultural heritage throughout Latin America. Each country has its own indigenous folkloric dance with particular characteristics that reflect their culture. What is remarkable is that folkloric dance occupies an important role in the daily lives of many Latin Americans, both as dancers themselves and spectators. These traditions are passed down from generation to generation and have been preserved over the centuries, as well as contemporized.

Over the recent decades, Northern Virginia has become a vast patchwork of communities that has welcomed immigrants from all over Latin America.

An exciting dance showcase of these Latin American communities took place at the Manassas Center for the Arts “Dance Night” on April 5, marking the launch of the exhibit “Bridging Cultures: The Latino Community in Manassas” which will open at the Manassas Museum on April 11.

Directed by Doug Horhota, Programs Coordinator of the City of Manassas Parks – Culture and Recreation, the Bridging Cultures “Dance Night” featured a Mexican folkloric group as well as a dance group from Bolivia. Mr. Horhota commented that it was a great challenge to include the many countries representing the Manassas Latino community and that the two dance programs were only a small sampling of its diverse cultures.

The program opened with a performance by the Danza Tecuanes of Manassas. They presented the Dance of the Jaguar which is inspired by a true story that occurred in the 1880s between the inhabitants of two villages who joined together to kill a jaguar that was killing people as well as livestock. It depicts two countryside groups wearing grotesque masks, which as the narrator explained, were meant to ridicule the Spanish invaders who conquered them. The dance also symbolizes how the head of the family is destined to protect their loved ones from the jaguar who in Mexican culture has spiritual powers. 

Tinkus San Simon of Falls Church performed dramatic and exciting dances of Bolivia. As one of the leading groups in Northern Virginia formed in 2010, they captivated the audience with the intensity of dramatic movements and eye-catching bright costumes. Numbering over 25 performers, including very engaging young children, they took the audience by storm. Gloria Encinas from Tinkus San Simon explained that “Tinkus” means “encounter” which simulates a battle between two groups and is a cultural dance originating in northern Potosi.

A prelude to the forthcoming April 11 – September 15 exhibit “Bridging Cultures: the Latino Community in Manassas,” the Dance Night served as a spectacular launch.

As an added expression to this months-long celebration in cultural diversity, the Cajun Creole restaurant Okra in Manassas, represented by Jackie Berquist, offered a tasty array of tacos and lime tarts to the whole audience as their contribution to this celebration.

Suzanne Alvarez Przygoda, co-host of “Panorama Latino” TV Show on Cox Channel 2, will feature the Manassas Museum April 11 opening ceremony on her Friday program at 8 p.m.

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