Giselle Revollar and Karla Pareja, a freshman and senior at Knighdale High School, floated across the stage, swirling their floor-length white skirts to accentuate their subtle dance, called the Jarabe Tapatio, or “Mexican Hat Dance.”
This dance was one of nearly two dozen performances during Knightdale High’s Hispanic Heritage Celebration night on Nov. 13. The school’s auditorium packed out for nearly two and a half hours of Hispanic dances, songs and skits.
Two student emcees translated between Spanish and English, although most of the evening was spent in Spanish conversation. Directed by Spanish teachers Carlos Rodriguez and Maria Rodriguez, a husband and wife duo who teach Spanish at Knightdale High, the program is in its seventh year.
After singing the national anthem, the students launched into a short skit that told the tale of Hispanic heritage. Starting in 1492, the story describes the influence of the Spanish, indigenous and African people to form the Hispanic identity.
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Next, about 20 girls dressed in white modeled the flags of Hispanic countries. When Mexico and Puerto Rico were announced, the crowd cheered wildly.
Musical performances included the guitar club band, a rap song and renditions of songs by Shakira and Selena, among others.
A handful of visiting Johnston County teachers joined Knightdale High teacher Diana Orjuela in demonstrating a traditional Panamanian dance with feathery hairpieces and billowing skirts.
Another visiting duet performed “Cumbia Colombiana” – a traditional Columbian dance.
Senior Estefanny Perez said that because of the performance, her fellow students feel like a part of something and are able to share their life with their peers.
“It gives people another piece of our culture,” Perez said. “It helps students participate in school – they’re motivated and excited.”
Senior Katia Fajardo, who helped emcee the event and performed during several modern dance pieces, agreed.
“It helps show people what Hispanics are,” she said. “I think dance is what demonstrates our culture.”