Alexandra lives in the department of La Guajira, as a Community Economic Development volunteer.
I have been dancing with young ladies from my community since the very beginning of January. Once school started in early February, they stopped coming to my class because they had to prepare for their grade-specific Carnaval dance presentations at school. There are girls in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, so they all split up. It turns out they used the traditional Colombian “Puya” song we had been practicing, but added more of their own choreography, and remixed it with other songs. All three of the grades put their own spin to the song, which reminded me of how my high school cheerleading competitions were like. I did not help them prepare almost at all during their first two weeks of school before their performances. I kept asking and checking up on the 9th graders mostly because they would practice down the street from me.
They saw my red leotard I brought with my samba dance outfit, and they decided that’s what they wanted their outfits to look like too. I suggested they fund raise by selling desserts, and they said they already had that idea. I donated my cookie mix and my kitchen for them to make them, but sadly they were ruined. They bought a type of flan dessert, sold it, and raised enough money for all 12 of the girls to have performance outfits. They did the fundraising and contracted a lady to make the outfits, completed within 5 days.
I suggested that I would be more than happy to perform at their school too, and they loved the idea. I also had them join me at the end of my dance to “Carnaval de Barranquilla.” I also allowed their 9th grade Queen Xilena to use my Samba headpiece as her crown. That day, we were asked to parade at Dibulla’s 2nd pre-Carnaval Friday parade. They insisted I stand right by them during the parade. They wanted all photos to be taken with me too. At the last minute, we were invited to perform in order to inaugurate the new amphitheater Dibulla has by the beach.
We just visited a pueblo within the Dibulla municipality called Rioancho, where the Dibulla mayor’s office organized their third Friday pre-Carnaval parade. Our group wasn’t invited, though I was invited. I told the girls if we all chipped in for transportation to there, that we could all go. They were all more than excited to make it, and some of the original girls from our dance group who weren’t in 9th grade borrowed other girls’ outfits in order to attend.
I’ve had a wonderful pre-Carnaval experience in Dibulla, most of all because of these young women. They have taken ownership and leadership to accomplish goals, especially since dance and Carnaval motivates them so much. I hope to continue the excitement around culture and dance throughout the rest of the year.