Tag Archive | "dance"

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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Haiti through dance

Audio slideshow by Elettra Fiumi and David Patrick Alexander.

As part of the BlakTino Festival at the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, the KaNu Dance Theater troupe performed a show based on Haiti’s struggle for independence from France in 1804. Dance movements with chains represented the fight against slavery by the French and songs about significant leaders of the Haitian Revolution, like Toussaint L’Ouverture, celebrated the freedom attained through this rebellion.

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Hip It and Hop It

Antonio Williams had never performed on stage in all his eight years, until he danced at Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night on September 7th.  He came in second.

His inexperience didn’t show as he break-danced alongside a professional at the “I Am The Bronx” live graffiti block party in Hunts Point on September 18th. That’s because Williams dances anywhere—Bryant Park, Central Park, or in the living room at home after he makes his mother move the furniture to the side.

“He’ll just dance, dance, dance for two or three hours until he wears himself out,” said his mother, Denicia Sutton.

Williams dancer-home

After he saw a video of his idol, Michael Jackson, just a year ago, he begged his mother to buy him tap shoes.

“He said, ‘It’s cool. You can play drums with your feet.’ So I got them and he’s been dancing ever since,” said Sutton.

Williams is completely self-taught, mostly via YouTube videos.

“I wanna be a dancer,” said Williams. “American idol’s greatest dancer. And I want to be a singer. I’m a great singer.”

Williams attends PS75 in Hunts Point and plans to audition for the Harlem Performing Arts School this January. In the meantime, he’s practicing a signature move he invented and named a Hip Hop Lock-it.

“It’s a move where you hip it and you hop it,” said Williams. “At first you just snap straight up and then you hop or jump and then you do a robot thing to finish it off. You push your chest inside your body, you put your hands out on the side of you, and then you move your arms every way. And my best part of it is the lock it: It’s when I do it and get out of control and spin around on my tippy toes and hit the ground. It’s a great move. I can show you.”

By Elettra Fiumi

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