The group uses dance to spread cultural awareness at the Richland event

DECATUR — Baile Monarcas formed in 2018 at the University of Illinois at Springfield and even when COVID shut down most things and some social and cultural groups never recovered, dancers refused to let it go stop them.

Baile Monarcas – Spanish for dancing monarchs, as in butterflies, not royalty – performed at Richland Community College on Friday for Hispanic Heritage Month. President Cristian Leon graduated from Eisenhower High School and attended Richland before transferring to ISU.

“We do a few Latin dances to promote our culture, because there’s not a lot of Latin (culture) representation here in Decatur,” Leon said. “I’m a huge cumbia (dance) fan so we had to do some cumbia.”

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It is a folk dance originating from Colombia. The group also performed reggaeton, a Puerto Rican dance style influenced by hip hop and Caribbean music, and traditional Mexican folk dance. The dancers provide their own costumes and spent two weeks preparing for the show, Leon said.

Faculty adviser Daniel Aguilar, who acted as emcee, joked that he couldn’t dance, so he’s puzzled as to why the group chose him as their adviser.

The hope of presenting the dance was not only highlight a part of Hispanic culture, but to inspire Richland students to deepen this culture. The first introduction to another culture, he said, is often the food, and people might research why certain dishes are prepared the way they use the ingredients they use, which could spark increased interest. for other aspects of this culture.

“We’re hoping it gets people hooked and you spark something,” he said. “This group has become something that attracts people who want to dance and who want to express themselves through song and dance and a kind of culture of expression in a different way than what we usually talk about. It’s easy to say, “Let’s go to Cristian’s family restaurant” or “Let’s go see a movie”, but dancing is a way to physically interact with a culture.

Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter

James C. Tibbs