Tag Archive | "Ballet"

Lady of Dance

Damaris Hernandez, 17, teaches Mexican ballet in Kingsbridge Heights

By Manuel Rueda

Cinco de Mayo is usually a busy day for Damaris Hernandez and her Mexican dance group, the Ballet Nuestra Señora del Refugio (Our Lady of Refuge Ballet).

“We usually dance in Fordham Plaza for the President of the Bronx,” says Hernandez, referring to the Borough President. “But this year we are going to –Univision Channel 41.”

A Bronx native, Hernandez is just 17, but she is one of two teachers in this community dance group based in Kingsbridge Heights.

Hernandez shows kids the quick steps of Mexican ballet, in which dancers stomp lightly making a clicking noise when their heels hit the ground.  She makes sure her adult dancers follow precise choreographies.

“There’s a lot of interaction with a girl and a guy,” Hernandez says. “What I teach them is to look at the guy usually, to loosen themselves up.”

The group’s members are mostly Mexican immigrants and their kids. With their heeled shoes, they dance to traditional rhythms from Mexican states like Veracruz, Yucatan and Jalisco.

“The important thing about this group is for children to know their culture, to know where their parents came from” said group manager Ruth Barrera.

Hernandez, whose father is from Oaxaca, was brought to the group when she was six.  She initially resisted. But now she feels comfortable in her dancing shoes. Hernandez says Mexican ballet is good exercise and it helps her to let her emotions out.  “I like it” she said, “this is like my second home.”


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