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El Corazón dance troupe heads to Disney


By La Prensa Staff


Dec. 31, 2018: After nearly a year’s worth of fundraising and weekly practices, members of the El Corazón de México Ballet Folklorico dance troupe are getting a break from a Northwest Ohio winter with some fun in the Florida sun and a performance its young members will remember for a lifetime.

A group of 62 people left by charter bus on New Year’s Eve, bound for Orlando, Florida and a 20-plus hour trip. The group planned to celebrate the arrival of the New Year while still on the bus.


“We get down there on New Year’s Day,” explained dance troupe director Elaina Hernández just before their departure. “We’re just going to go to the hotel, relax, and then eat a meal together.”


El Corazón was scheduled to perform right away at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019 at Disney Springs on the Marketplace Stage. The last time the dance troupe made a similar trip just over a decade ago, the dance performance took place at the Magic Kingdom. Now only high school marching bands perform there during a daily parade through the amusement park.


“We were pretty lucky to do that when we last went down there in 2007,” noted Ms. Hernández.


The performance is free and open to the public, so Ms. Hernández encouraged any family or friends who live or are vacationing in the area to come check out the group’s dance recital. 28 El Corazón members will perform, but other dancers and siblings did accompany them on the trip.

After the performance, the fun part of the trip begins for the young dancers and their adult chaperones. Visits are planned the remainder of the week to several Disney theme parks, including Epcot Center, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Universal Studios.


“We’re going to make sure the kids get the full experience going down there,” said Ms. Hernández, who explained the return trip is planned right after one of those park visits, arriving back in Toledo on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019.



The dance troupe needed to raise $41,000 in all to make the trip. A portion of that total came from the families of the dancers themselves of offset the cost. Fundraisers and dance performances over the past year covered more than half of the total cost. During Hispanic Heritage Month alone, the group gave 18 performances while organizing three fundraisers. The group was “really hustling to get that money together,” according to El Corazón’s director.



“The community was really great to us,” said Ms. Hernández. “Historic South and Latins United were big contributors. We also did fundraisers at the Believe Center. Lourdes University helped us out. Adelante helped us out. There were so many contributors who helped us I can’t even name all of them. Some of the fundraisers we did we may want to now make an annual thing.”


One in particular that may become a yearly event was a street festival El Corazón sponsored in partnership with Latins United. But the idea would be to create a neighborhood festival, not simply motivated by raising money for the dance troupe. Ms. Hernández noted the street festival was originally set up with Latino bands and family-friendly fun, so any future event would follow that same formula.


While Ms. Hernández is proud of each edition of El Corazón dancers, she is particularly fond of the 2007 and 2018 versions of the troupe that she has been able to take to Florida to perform.


“I was really just waiting for that type of group again-- dancers who are really committed and families who are really committed,” said Ms. Hernández. “There are a few of the dancers who are seniors in high school and are going to be moving on, so we wanted to make sure we did something special. It was just the right group, because the groups are always changing. We have a really great group this year and I knew they were going to work really hard for it.”


That hard work involved twice-weekly evening practices at the Believe Center alongside a busy performance schedule and periodic fundraisers, such as working the concession stands at a Mud Hens game. The students and their supporters really met the challenge, stated Ms. Hernández.


“These kids are so excited. A lot of them, if they weren’t in the group, would never get to go to Disney,” she said. “Having that (chance) and being able to represent Toledo when they go down there is exciting. Maybe some as adults would get this experience, get to go down there. But they wouldn’t be able to go as performers or see it as kids. It’s a very different experience as a kid. It’s amazing to me and I’m really appreciative to the community and everyone who helped us.”


The dancers who performed ranged in age from 10 to 18 and had to have at least one year of experience performing with the troupe. Ms. Hernández had to set some stipulations, because Disney doesn’t allow parents backstage with the young performers.


The Friday before the troupe departed for Florida, they performed for the Toledo Museum of Art as part of TMA’s “Great Art Escape” at the Peristyle, as illustrated in La Prensa photos online at laprensa1.com and facebook.


Copyright © 1989 to 2019 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/02/19 19:32:10 -0800.




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