Young artists seek to spread Latino culture to the city of Pasadena

Young artists seek to spread Latino culture to the city of Pasadena
Young artists seek to spread Latino culture to the city of Pasadena
Khushbu Kumari

The entire community is invited to the presentation of the USC Folk Group on April 8 at 3 pm in the University's Village Piazza; your support will help the artists to continue their endeavor

Fernanda del Toro remembers the emotional impact she felt the day she was on campus and suddenly heard a familiar sound.

“I left the building where I was, turned a corner onto an esplanade, and suddenly I found myself face to face with a group of people who danced to the sounds of my land, the same music that my mother listened to at home,” Del Toro said.

People danced a traditional piece from the Mexican state of Jalisco, where Del Toro was born but had not returned to for quite some time.

“I was there, watching them dance, I couldn't move, and suddenly, I swear I started crying... It was my music, my people, our costumes,” he said.

“What was a group like that doing at the University of Southern California?” the young woman wondered. When she finished dancing, they explained to her that it was the USC Folkloric Group.

Since then, Fernanda del Toro has been part of the cast and told La Opinion that, although the campus decided to leave them to their fate, the members seek help because they will continue.

“If you could see how beautiful the group is,” said the young woman with a proud tone. “We surpass the students, the group has university workers, sometimes professors, and the best thing is that it is from the community, people who have nothing to do with USC come to join, from many countries, not just Mexican.”

Perhaps for Los Angeles, with its Latino daily life, it is not so important, “but in a city like Pasadena, for us it is a very important achievement, we want to promote Latino culture in Pasadena, take it to the community.”

The group is scheduled for its next presentation, Sones de mi Tierra, on March 23, but with only a few days to go, USC withdrew without explanation the small budget it had given the group. Del Toro thinks it was because, due to the pandemic, practices had been temporarily suspended.

The university has thrown obstacles at the dance group before, such as leaving it without a classroom where it can practice, sometimes in difficult weather.

This time, however, the university has gone further, “days before our event, they have notified us that they will charge us overtime for each of the services we request, including electricity and cleaning. Before today, our group was never notified that our event coincided with an 'overtime day'.”

The group, which pays for all its expenses, its various costumes, its music, its transfers, had already signed a chair rental for people who wanted to come and see their presentation, and now the campus left them without support and in debt.

Del Toro, who is now the treasurer, explained that the account amounts to just over $5,000.

“We decided to put our dream and our trust in the community,” said the young student.

“We propose to push the Latino culture in Pasadena, beyond the boundaries of the university and we would like the community to share that passion and our pride in helping us, it doesn't matter if they can donate a little,” he explained.

“We started this group to express our cultural pride on a campus where we represent less than 15 percent of the population,” del Toro said.

“Many of our costumes and decorations have been handcrafted by our members and family, and all we needed from USC was a clear space for us to perform, and they have failed us,” he acknowledged.

“Now, with these overpriced fees, it seems that USC is discouraging us from sharing our culture with the diverse university community and the large Latinx community that surrounds this campus,” he added.

The hope of the dancers, of various ages, is that members of the community in Los Angeles County who would like to support them beyond donating to raise the funds for the emergency that USC put them in, is to raise enough to buy materials for your costumes or even finished costume designs.

The group has issued an invitation for all who wish to come to see and support their presentation on April 8 at 3 pm at USC Village Piazza.

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