Give Ballet Folklorico de UCR and Indigenous Dance a dignified space
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To the Regents of The University of California:
A petition requesting a dignified space be set aside for Mexican and Indigenous Dance in the UC System. Presented by UCR students.
Currently, Mexican Dance group Ballet Folklorico de UCR finds itself having to rehearse outside on cement and in cold weather conditions. Ballet Folklorico de UCR practices Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30-8pm in front of Chicano Student Programs. The cements is ruining their costumes, shoes, and more importantly their bodies. Despite relentless attempts by student leader Celeste Gil to inform the Chancellor and the Dean of Students that a proper dance space is needed, as well as a portable wooden platform for performance, we continue to exist in crisis. Conditions are unbearable. Ballet Folklorico de UCR performs at many campus events and is proud to express their culture. Yet, our dreams for our dance expressions are languishing or have been squelched. The future looks bleak for Chicano and Indigenous dance.
At the Fine Arts structure, the Department of Music has mandated Chicano Dancer/Professor Johnavalos into teaching in a small crowded space next to the endangered Gamelon instruments and the Marimbas of South America. These sacred instruments seem to take priority over the human dancers. According to the Department of Music Chair, they are unable to move the instruments because it is too expensive. The 2 Mexican dance classes are left frustrated and unable to create informal performances throughout the year. We consider this a form of repression.
Even worse, Johnavalos finds his body injured in shambles after 30 years of teaching on the cement floored UCR Barn.We are unable to find administrators or department chairs who might take concern or responsibility for this kind of “benign neglect” at UCR. We call for the UC Regents to examine its equity in funding and resources for Mexican and Chicano performing arts. At UCR Music Department, Johnavalos and the late Laura Sobrino were assigned to direct the Studio for Mexican Music and Dance (SMMD) but complained of zero funding accompanied by a hostile, bullying and criminalizing treatment by Fine Arts staff.
Support our Solution
We request at UCR the “corner dance studio” (located adjacent to the “World Music Room”) be released for the Mexican Dance courses during the day and for student Folklorico rehearsals during the evenings. Being that Mexican Dance is requesting this use for twice a week, it leaves this new studio for OTHER dance forms requiring shoes.
In honor of Laura Sobrino, the late Chicana pioneer of women Mariachi and UCR professor, we call for the return of the “parallel track” curriculum (design by Johnavalos and Laura Sobrino) where dance takes place in one studio while Mariachi class takes place next door; allowing for collaboration between musicians and dancers.
We the Chican@/Latin@ students of UC Riverside, (roughly 40% of the entire undergraduate student population), are fed up with this school’s administration for time and time again utilizing our brown skin for the institution’s own benefit. As a Hispanic Serving Institution, UC Riverside benefits from our presence by means of federal grants and donations. These benefits that the school gets for being “Diverse” are never shared with the student population because they are always mismanaged and used without Diversity in mind. In simpler terms, we feel as if the school’s administration has been using us just to get funds which they never use on us anyways. As Chican@/Latin@ students, and as people of color in general, we understand that diversity is not just a quantitative description of a particular space; rather it is a qualitative experience in which all aspects of our humanity are respected and celebrated.
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