Latino Initiative celebrates El Día de los Reyes at UVU

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The international, non-profit dance group Viva El Folklore performed at UVU to celebrate Día de los Reyes Jan. 13. With the women dressed in beautiful, colorful gowns and the men in handsome, mariachi themed outfits wearing black felt sombreros, one felt as if the culture of Mexico came alive through the music and dancing that was displayed on stage.

Día de los Reyes — also known as Epiphany in other Christian countries such as the US and England — is commonly celebrated Jan. 6 and is a celebration held in honor of the Three Wise Men who brought gifts to the baby Jesus.

Following their two-hour performance of traditional Latin dances largely from Mexico, the audience erupted into screams, shouts and applause. The performers ranged from toddlers to college students and beyond.

Leslie de Avila, a UVU sophomore and graphic design major, was one of the performers in the group and she discussed some of the imagery behind the beautiful gowns the women were wearing.

“[Mine] is red, but then it has all the different ribbons. It is a representation of a piñata, so we are dressed exactly like a piñata and that is why it is so colorful,” Avila said.

Luis Arellano, a senior high school student who plans to attend UVU, expressed how some of the dances he performed in, specifically a more traditional form of mariachi dance from the area of Jalisco, Mexico, was very difficult for him to learn.

“It is hard. It is really difficult. It is a lot of footwork and exercise, and staying in rhythm is the hardest part,” he said.

Despite the difficulties involved in learning the dances, Arellano said he intends to continue dancing with the group for a long time.

Director and creator of the group, Raquel Acosta, discussed the history of the group and how it came to be.

“I’m a professional dancer, and in August of 2005, the Consul of Mexico in Salt Lake City [asked] me to form a dancing group of teenagers to perform at a celebration for Mexico’s Independence Day,” Acosta said “I said yes, and the people loved it, and I haven’t stopped. That was 13 years ago.”

The group has since known a lot of success and has had the opportunity to perform in Disneyland and Walt Disney World multiple times and are expected to perform in South Africa in December.