Valley studio uses dance to educate their students about Hispanic culture
PHOENIX — A Phoenix dance academy that has been in the Valley for more than two decades is dedicated to immersing students in Hispanic culture and history.
“We teach all the traditional, which are the pre-Hispanic,” Skye Valentine, a director at Ollin Yoliztli Dance Academy, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.
“We also teach the creative where we start creating the more structured chirographies and then contemporary.”
The students, as young as 3 years old, are taught traditional Ballet Folklorico and wear flowing bright-colored costumes that gracefully move with them as they dance across the hardwood floor.
“The style (of the costumes) generally has to do with the region,” Valentine said. “Whatever flowers were around, whatever colors of trees, whatever fibers they had, that’s how they created the costumes.”
He said what the studio teaches goes beyond choreography and costumes.
“We teach them where the dances come from and we also teach them who created the dances because sometimes people will say, ‘oh that’s a nice dance but why is called this?,'” Valentine said. “There’s a history behind it.”
His mom, Ana Bonilla, is the owner and director of the studio. She immigrated to the Valley from Mexico.
“What we see a lot on the surface is more of the aesthetic look now that we have but it really carries a lot more of the history of Mexico,” Bonilla said, translated by Valentine.
“That’s really why it was passed down because that’s how they passed on the traditions, so they wouldn’t be forgot.”
Valentine said students at the studio can become “a more educated individual as a whole about their culture and the origins of their families and their heritage.”
The two encourage people of all cultures and backgrounds to come to the studio and learn about the dance and the history behind Hispanic culture.