CLEVELAND (WJW) — Move your hips and march to the rhythm! “Baila con Migo” — or “Dance with Me” — is a new five-week dance program for Hispanic Heritage Month shaking up the Cleveland Public Library’s Memorial Nottingham Branch in the city’s North Collinwood neighborhood.
“It was fun to do it as a child, and I had so much fun learning about my music and history of my culture through the music and through the dancing,” said Joanna Rivera, the children’s librarian at the branch who is proud to be sharing her Puerto Rican Heritage.
The intergenerational dance classes are a collaboration with Adam Tully, children’s librarian at the library’s Collinwood Branch.
“We wanted to be able to show our Collinwood community all of the richness and the culture of Latin-America and there is a vast diaspora.”
Participants will learn the basics of merengue, salsa and bachata while also exploring other Latin American dance forms.
“We have a PowerPoint presentation so we’ll have a little bit of videos and a little bit of background information about the dance and the music and then also each week we’ll have different crafts,” said Rivera.
“Music and dance are probably the best ways of really sharing culture,” said Jamie Declet, who came to Cleveland from Puerto Rico and is the branch manager at the library’s South Branch in Tremont, which is home to a large Hispanic community.
“The library is the people’s university so, you know, that represents everyone in the city of Cleveland.”
Hispanic Heritage Month is a year-round initiative for the Cleveland Public library as they seek to share different cultures with both Hispanic and non-Hispanic patrons through other programming and bilingual books.
“The ability to share our cultures and our differences and yet to sort of relate to the fact that yes there are differences but there are also similarities, that is what Hispanic Heritage is all about,” said Declet.
Through the dance classes, Joanna and Adam are trying to highlight similarities Hispanic cultures share with other ethnic groups.
“They might not realize how much influence we have from not just European culture, African culture, native culture, it’s all just kind of a melting pot into one,” said Rivera.
“I’m hoping that children understand that that kind of access is available to them,” said Tully.
The librarians hope to continue the dance program during other times of the year. The current program runs on Thursdays starting at 4 p.m.
To find more information on the dance classes and learn more about the library’s other events for Hispanic Heritage Month, click here.