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Malpaso Dance Co. Dances with Classes

Malpaso Dance Company mingles with IB Dance students
Malpaso Dance Company mingles with IB Dance students

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, Bay Shore High School welcomed the Malpaso Dance Company, a Cuban dance troupe, with various presentations to the student body. These presentations took place over two days and consisted of Cuban history workshops, dance workshops, and a final performance by the dance company. The history workshops were targeted to Spanish classes and the dance workshops to dance classes and were led by Fernando Saéz, founder and executive director of the company, as well as other members. 

Throughout the history workshop, Mr. Saez spoke to students about the history of Cuba and Cuba’s culture. 

“I thought the workshop was fun and a great experience because, not only was I able to learn about a successful dance company, but I was able to immerse myself in an environment with dances of different cultures,” Rohan Fawcett, 12th grade, said. “I left the workshop being a little more knowledgeable about different types of dance in a different culture and what it can represent depending on the movement.”

Mr. Saez believes they hold the living heritage of what it means to be Hispanic, so he attempts to pass this down and carry that legacy through dance. 

“I would love those who are thinking about developing a professional career in dance to be stimulated enough to continue,” he explained. “And those that are not interested in following a professional career to be incentivized enough to enjoy dance or to be attracted enough to enjoy dance in many different ways, like dancing in social dances and parties, but also to think about spending more time in indoor theaters watching work of great dance companies around them.”

Leondda Celestin, A member of the IB dance class and a choreographer herself, felt especially moved by the workshop. She noted that, although there was limited understanding between the Malpaso instructors and the dance students, they were able to form their own language through the art of dance. 

“It was amazing,” Celestin said. “There was a language barrier between us IB dancers and the Malpaso dancers but, in my opinion, it just showed how powerful a language dance is. We were still able to communicate and understand each other, not with words, but through dance. It is something I will never forget.”

It was because of the Hispanic Heritage Month Committee that an event like this was able to come together. Mr. Hernandez, a member of the committee, felt there needed to be an event that addressed the interaction between racial groups in the school, to show how their cultures can merge or be similar and give them to appreciate both. The Malpaso Dance Company, being from Cuba, allowed him to lay down some “stepping stones” because Cuba’s culture is heavily influenced by both Africa and Latin America.

“The idea was that the group had to be from Cuba because they had to display the result of the mixture of Spanish conquistadors and African people, and had it all had an impact on culture,” he said. “I feel like it’s an opportunity for the Hispanic community to grow, but also I feel like it’s a really important opportunity for those who are not Hispanic or not Spanish-speaking to also be aware and grow along with us.”

This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration left much of the student body changed.

“These kinds of events allow people to visually see what makes Hispanic heritage/culture so rich,” Leondda Celestin, 11th grade, said. “We need more of it. They provide a learning experience that many kids never have the chance to get.”


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