Sometimes I wonder why I dance Mexican folklorico. There are many other forms of dance I could (and do) pursue and enjoy, but I always seem to return to the traditional dance of my culture. There is something about the various styles, the energetic music, the passionate rhythms, and the history that fills me with an incredible joy – a joy so overwhelming that I cannot help but share it with others.
I was reminded of this desire to share artistic side of my heritage when I read Pope Benedict’s address to a group of Bavarian pilgrims who presented the Holy Father with a gift of traditional songs and dances of Bavaria in honor of his birthday which was in April:
“It is not simply a matter of entertainment, but of a culture of gladness, imbued with joy; it is born of an interior acceptance of the world, of an interior “yes” to life that is a “yes” to joy. It is founded upon the fact that we are in harmony with creation, in harmony with the creator himself, and for this reason we know that it is good to be a person… he has given us such a beautiful world, such a beautiful land, that it is easy to recognize that God is good and be glad about it. At the same time, however, he has also done it in a way that the men who live in this land, precisely from their “yes,” knew how to give it its complete beauty; it became so beautiful only through the culture of persons, through their faith, their joy, songs, music and art. The Creator did not wish to do this alone but only with the help of men.
Now, someone could ask whether it is right to be so happy when the world is so full of suffering, when there exists so much darkness and evil? Is it right to be so high spirited and joyful? The answer can only be “yes!” Because saying “no” to joy we do nothing of use to anyone, we only make the world darker. And whoever does not love himself cannot give anything to his neighbor, he cannot help him, he cannot be a messenger of peace.
From our faith we know and every day we see that the world is beautiful and God is good. And because of the fact that he became man and dwelled among us we know it definitively and concretely: yes, God is good and it is good to be a person. We live in this joy, and from this joy we try to bring joy to others, to reject evil and to be servants of peace and reconciliation.” Continue reading…
Though speaking specifically about Bavarian culture, I believe the Pope’s words are relevant for many other cultures and performers of cultural arts, as well. He put into words the very reasons dancing is so important to me, especially traditional Mexican folklorico. He is right – it is more than entertainment; it is about sharing the heart and soul of a people and uniting ourselves in their joy. Seriously, I love when I’m on the same page as the Pope!
photo of yours truly c/o Arts NYC and the East Village Arts Party