The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

Cinco de Mayo show celebrates Mexican culture

Alums, students from other schools join current Knights to create an eclectic mix that unites present with past

With a wide range of performers from current students to alums to professional to even a few guest performers from other Austin ISD campus, McCallum’s Cinco de Mayo celebration united the past and the present and students from all over the city all of the purpose of celebrating the contribution of Mexican culture to the world. McCallum’s longtime expert on Cinco de Mayo and all things Latine returned to campus to Senora A emcee the show.

Leading up to Friday’s eighth-period performance, Ballet Folklórico students manned a ticket sales table at lunch in the main hallway. The booth was located in the main hall near the front office.  The $2 ticket price did not dissuade math teacher and PALS adviser Richard Cowles from stepping up to the booth on Wednesday and buying a class set of tickets so his entire eighth-period class could take in the show.

When Friday finally arrived, students left eighth period and headed to the Mac to enjoy the show, and we believe the photos that follow will confirm that those paying customers got a terrific show for the price. The wide range of performers included the Ballet Folklórico troupe,  live musical performances including a mariachi band.

We are proud to present as this week’s Tuesday Top 10 our photo gallery that captures all the colorful and smile-filled performances from last Friday’s Cinco de Mayo celebration.

UNA CANTANTE ENCANTADA: Mac alumnus and vocalist Crystal Vara (Class of 2013) performs a series of traditional Mexican and Mexican American numbers, ranging from the traditional ballad “Cucurucucu Paloma” to the seismic anthem “Como la Flor,” by late Tejano trailblazer Selena.

Former McCallum Spanish teacher Juana Gun first asked Vara to perform for the Ballet Folklórico Cinco de Mayo performance several years back. The two bonded after Vara’s graduation and have even sang at karaoke nights together. Ever since, Vara has been a staple of the program according to Gun.

“I’m proud that something I started 20 years ago has another 20 years ahead of it,” Gun said. “I love being around my Knights. I love this place.”

Caption by Beatrix Lozach. Photo by Henry McDaniel.

A HARMONIC HOMECOMING: After being the featured guitarist at the event last year as a senior, Aaron Degante performs at the Cinco de Mayo on Friday as an alumnus. On Friday, Degante played “Malagueña” and “Se Ela Perguntar.” He felt both pieces fit the energy of the event. 

“I picked ‘Se Ela Perguntar’ because it’s a beautiful slow paced piece,” Degante said. “It would catch the crowd by surprise when I play ‘Malagueña’ since it’s a lot faster pace than ‘Se Ela Perguntar.’ ‘Malagueña’ is my favorite piece of all time.”

Degante was invited back to the MAC stage by Telvi Altamirano-Cancino, his former Spanish teacher. 

“I was just happy to help Sra. A out,” he said. 

Altamirano-Cancino thought Degante would be a good addition to the show not only because of his musical ability but also because it would provide him a way back to his alma mater and local Latine community. 

“I love the idea of having alumni perform and stay connected to our school,” Altamirano-Cancino said.  “It shows how much of a community we are, and it mirrors an important aspect of our Latino heritage. We are a culture that looks out for each other and gives back to each other.”

Like Altamirano-Cancino, Degante found community to be a rewarding part of his Cinco De Mayo experience. 

“[The] best part of coming back and playing was just seeing the school again and remembering the many memories I made,” he said. 

Caption by Francie Wilhelm with additional reporting by Dave Winter. Photo by Henry McDaniel. 

FUN AND FRIENDS: Freshman Carley Castro-Seiler dances in Ballet Folklórico’s Cinco de Mayo performance on Friday in the MAC. Castro-Seiler said the club has grown closer together during this year, and has been continuously improving its performance. 

“The last performance was really fun because we all got closer over the year,” Castro-Seiler said. “It was more dancing with friends other than random people.” 

Even with a slight mishap in the group’s last dance, Seiler said the performance was a great experience. 

“The last dance that we did, we messed up a little bit,” Seiler said. “But it was fine, it didn’t feel awkward or anything because we were together.” 

Seiler said she was initially introduced to Ballet Folklórico by her family. 

“I got involved because my grandmother used to do it when she was little,” Seiler said. “My mom wanted me to do it, so she kind of pushed me, but then it became more for fun, rather than just doing it for my mom.”

Overall, Seiler said she had a great time performing for the event. 

“I had a lot of fun doing it, so that was the most important thing,” Seiler said. 

Caption by Josie Mullan. Photo by Riley Pita. 

Aida Ortiz, a student at LBJ High School, dances a traditional Hawaiian dance onstage. While Hawaii is not a part of Mexico, Mexican cowboys still had a large cultural impact on the Paniolo people. This unique blend of identities allowed both Hispanic people and Asian Americans (whose national celebration month is May) to be recognized. Photo by Henry McDaniel.

MESMERIZING MAZATLAN: Sophomore Mailyn Gil and senior Keegan Sarwate dance the Mazatlan together during the Cinco De Mayo show on Friday. The event was organized and produced by Ballet Folklórico. The Mazatlan dance comes from the region of Sinaloa. 

During the show, various dances, songs, and beats were performed to celebrate Cinco De Mayo, a holiday which celebrates the Mexican victory over France on May 5, 1862.

This is Gil’s second year being a part of Ballet Folklórico and also her second year to perform in the Cinco De Mayo show. With Juana Gun, the former sponsor of Ballet Folklórico, leaving and Telvi Altamirano-Cancino taking over as the new sponsor, new performances were introduced into this year’s Cinco De Mayo show. 

One new performance was as steel-drum performance by the Knights of Steel. Watching the steel drums performance was Gil’s favorite part of this year’s show. 

“All of the club members were dancing and having fun backstage,” she said. 

As well as watching the drum performance, performing “The Torito” was Gil’s favorite part because of the costume elements.

“Women wore the traditional Chiapas dress, which has colorful flowers embroidered in it,” Gil said. “The men wear Torito masks which are handmade masks that look like bulls.”

Ballet Folklórico has been practicing traditional dances for multiple weeks leading up to the big performance and also has spent time making various parts of costumes. 

Caption by Maya Tackett. Photo by Henry McDaniel.

Senior Mika Ponce and sophomore Esteban Aleman perform the Mazatlan dance at Friday’s Cinco de Mayo celebration in the MAC. Because the dance was the most recent one that Ballet Folklórico dancers had learned, Aleman was nervous about performing it.

“I was actually feeling really nervous,” Aleman said. “We had done a performance at Reilly Elementary earlier, and I was worried about the last dance we did, because it slipped apart.”

Feeling happy after the performance on Friday, Aleman said the dances improved.

“I think it went better at the Cinco de Mayo show,” he said.

Dressed in traditional ballet folklórico outfits, Aleman said the girls switched into different dresses for each region of Mexico.

Aleman said his highlight of the night was the last dance, which had been the wild card of their performance, but had improved a lot.

“It was just really fun to perform,” he said.

Aleman has enjoyed his time with the Spanish club and says it is something he looks forward to every week.

Caption by Priya Thoppil. Photo by Henry McDaniel.

NEW YEAR NEW EXPERIENCE: For junior Mac Lopez getting to be a part of the Cinco De Mayo show has become increasingly more special. As a two-year member of Ballet Folklórico, Lopez has gotten to be involved with the show multiple times and see both the production of it, and the background efforts it takes to put on.

“Getting to be involved in this during our biggest performance of the year felt special,” Lopez said, “[especially] because of the community connection and celebration of culture.”

As part of the show Lopez got to participate in the dance, “El Torito,” which originated from the state of Chiapas.

“I think getting to be involved in this dance felt special to the holiday because of the community event Cinco De Mayo is,” Lopez said. “Getting to be involved in this during our biggest performance of the year felt special because of that community connection.”

For Lopez, the dance was bittersweet because it gave her both learning opportunities and chances to relive old memories. The dance was specifically for the Ballet Folklórico captains, featuring a solo performance for Lopez and her partner Maverick Palacios.

“It’s special to me because it was one of the first dances I learned in the club,” Lopez said, “and because the end solo allows Maverick and I to improve each time something new.”

Caption by Chloe Lewcock. Photo by Riley Pita.

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