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"Breaking Piñatas" presented by the Latino Writers Collective

17 April 2008
Guadalupe Center, Kansas City, Missouri

This event combined poetry, music, drama and dance.

Breaking Piñatas Gives Back Healing Culture to the Community

Gathering between food, entrance and theater at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008
Gathering between food, entrance and theater

by Nicole English
Originally written for the UNews

The West Side was treated to live local cultural performances of art, poetry, dance, music, and drama at Breaking Piñatas on Thursday, April 17, when students and social activists presented their work at Guadalupe Center, 1015 Avenida Cesar E. Chavez. Despite rainy, stormy weather, the Latino community turned out in full force to support these local artists and performers for fundraiser sponsored by the Latino Writers Collective.

Chato Villalobos at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008
Chato Villalobos

The fundraiser was the brain-child of Chato Villalobos as a way to demonstrate to the community the range of its cultural "wealth" and to give it back to the community in the form of a gift of performance.

"That is what piñatas are all about," Villalobos said. "The person who actually breaks the piñata is actually doing for the benefit of others... it is a way of giving to others in a fun way... that is where we got the idea for the name of the show."

In the tradition of the Mexican carpas of the pre-modern age, the show presented a mix of entertainment, political commentary, and humor, but with a mix of traditional and contemporary themes. Villalobos wanted to make sure that the show included both traditional and creative elements, so that young people know where they come from and what their roots are.

"The performing arts are just different ways of telling stories," Villalobos added. "And that is the way that high school kids and young adults like to tell their stories... through the expressive arts... so this performance approach is in support of them."

The show started promptly at 7pm with welcoming comments from Alta Vista Charter High School director, Gilbert Guerrero, and his protégé, Chato Villalobos. Villalobos, a self-described "bad kid," stated that he owes his life being turned around by people in the community, like Guerrero, taking an interest in his well-being. He turned himself around, finish school, and is now a well-known police officer and social activist in the West Side community. He organized this show as a thank-you to the community who supported him, and as an effort to engage other "at risk" teens before they get into trouble themselves.

In the lobby was artwork from the Alta Vista Charter High School students as well as those from inmates in prison with whom the students have been corresponding. Villalobos has also created a program reaching out to young adults in prison so that they know they are not forgotten.

"People think it is an unusual approach to have students corresponding with inmates," said Villalobos. "But the inmates have a lot of cautionary wisdom to share with students."

The entertainment was kicked off by the Sociodad Poetica de Alta Vista, a group of high school students from Alta Vista who presented their original poetry which revolved around the theme of "Look into my eyes." This was followed by "These are their words," a reading of the inmates' poetry, with whom the students have been corresponding.

The show also featured Poetry by Angie Tinoco, Gustavo Abyer, Jessica and Priscilla Ayada, and by Villalobos himself. Live music and song were provided by Greg Brenner and Kate Shue. Short musical dramas were also presented that illustrated and communicated issues relevant in the Latino community.

El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008
El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco

The show also featured El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco who performed a traditional rendering of "La Danza De Los Viejitos" (the dance of the little old ones), as well as other traditional dances. The group also surprised and delighted the audience with a creative and humorous rendition of hip-hop dance, dressed as the little old men with canes.

"We wanted to promote and support Latino Arts in general," said Enrique Chaurand, one of the leaders of the Grupo Atotonilco. "And we have a wealth of creative young Latino talent in our community."

Seto (Aniseto Herrera) krumping in a solo performance at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008. Seto is also a dancer with El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco
Seto (Aniseto Herrera)

One of the members of the dance group, Aniseto "Seto" Herrera did an impressive performance of Krump dancing. A veteran of folklorico for years, Herrera has recently gotten a scholarship to attend the Performing Arts Center at the Oklahoma City University as a dance major.

"My plan is to major in dance and minor in Spanish, have a career in dance, then come back to Kansas City to become a teacher," said Herrera.

After the show, Villalobos and the artists stayed for a Q&A session. They answered questions about art, poetry, and using the performing arts as political expression and for community unity.

"The arts can be very healing both personally and communally," said Villalobos. "It is much better and healthier to express yourself, and talk about issues, than it is to let things escalate into hostility or violence... that just creates trouble for everyone."

 

Jessica Ayala at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008
Jessica Ayala

El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco performing their Danza de Los Viejitos routine at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008
El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco performing their Danza de Los Viejitos routine
El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco performing their Danza de Los Viejitos routine at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008
El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco performing their Danza de Los Viejitos routine, getting up for a little hip hop
Seto (Aniseto Herrera) krumping in a solo performance at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008. Seto is also a dancer with El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco
Seto (Aniseto Herrera) krumping in a solo performance. Seto is also a dancer with El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco
Seto (Aniseto Herrera) krumping in a solo performance at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008. Seto is also a dancer with El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco
Seto - Aniseto Herrera
Seto (Aniseto Herrera) krumping in a solo performance at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008. Seto is also a dancer with El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco
Seto (Aniseto Herrera)
El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008
El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco
Reading at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008
 
Reading at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008
Reading at Breaking Piñatas presented by the Latino Writers Collective 17 April 2008

The Program

Latino Writers Collective
Segunda Pagina Series Presents:

"Breaking Piñatas"

A Cultural Performance of Poetry, Drama, Dance, and Music

April 17, 2008

Welcome: Gilbert Guerroro y Chato Villalobos

Sociodad Poetica de Alta Vista
"Look into my eyes"

Inmates Art Work/Poetry:
"These are their words"

Ballet Folklorico: El Grupo Atotonilco

Song/Music: Katie Shu

Poetry: Angie Tinoco

Drama: Transcendance

Poetry: Chato Villalobos

Ballet Folklorico: El Grupo Atotonilco

Poetry: Jessica Ayala

Poetry: Priscilla Ayala

Drama: La Espera

Poetry: Gustavo Abyer

Tribute Poem "I am Joaquin"

Closing: Q & A with Performers

Special Gracias to the Musicians:
Greg Brenner (electric guitar) and
Katie Shu (Kate Hightshoe, acoustic guitar and oboe)