Cultural performance draws crowds to street

Bella Vista fifth-grader Colleen Campos performs the Folkorico dance “Las Perlitas” during the second annual Brickroad to Cultural Friendship Saturday on Main Street. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

The sidewalks along Main Street were bulging with onlookers Saturday as students from 13 Clovis elementary school sashayed, twisted, and spun across the crimson bricks. The morning ceremony marked the second annual “The Brick Road: A Perfect Cultural Friendship” performance.

“Students are here today to make their own history and honor the cultures of New Mexico,” said Keith Ingram, Marshall Junior High School teacher and master of ceremony.

“It’s important in busy times — we forget that there is a very interesting past,” he said. “There were three dominate cultures in Clovis: Native American, Hispanic and Anglo. And right here on Main Street,” Ingram said, glancing toward his feet, “the very bricks we’re standing on were put down in 1916 … brought in by mule-driven wagons.”

Students honored Native American, Hispanic and Anglo cultures Saturday by performing traditional songs and dances as their loved ones looked on.

“I wish they would have more stuff like this on Main Street,” said Connie Jaramillo, grandmother to an 11-year-old, who toured the Lyceum Theater earlier in the day.

Dressed in a crisp white shirt, cowboy hat and boots, Mesa Elementary sixth-grader Assad Mahdi looked on as his peers wove ribbons around a Maypole, in the ceremony’s last dance.

“I did a square dance,” Mahdi said proudly. “We practiced for two weeks.”

Saturday’s performance was made possible through a state Fine Arts Grant. Planning for the event took months of preparation said event organizer, Wayne Anderson, who is the Clovis schools music coordinator.

“Seamstresses sewed costumes last year,” Anderson said, referring to pastel colored dresses that hung so long they nearly swept the bricks of Main Street.

“And the boys wear blue jeans or black jeans and ties. I created 41 databases to get all the material correct,” Anderson said, a thick folder of stage directions and information at his side. “We don’t have a rehearsal (with all the schools) so you just never know how it will go.”

Participants and onlookers were in consensus: The event went well. And at the same time, said sixth-grade Lockwood Elementary teacher, Tiffany Dial, it offered a valuable lesson.
“It teaches them (her students) to take pride in where they live,” Dial said.