The dancers with the colorful dresses and the crowd of people surrounding the Riverbank Library this past Saturday were on hand for a cultural celebration of Día de los Niños (Day of the Child).
The dancers lined up in two different groups outside the library and commenced the festivities with a few different numbers led by Norma Torres-Manriquez and Courtney Floyd, Teaching Assistant.
Ballet Folklorico Viva Mexico began in Riverbank 16 years ago and has been performing at this event for the past eight years.
The crowd cheered and applauded the dancers as they clattered on the concrete and twirled their beautiful bold colored dresses.
The dancers vary in age and consisted of a beginning class and an intermediate class. There is also one young lady that started dancing with the group at 2½ years old.
“She was very focused and really wanted to do it,” explained Manriquez. “We don’t have a starting age range but they have to be able to focus for about 25 to 30 minutes.”
The Ballet Folklorico class is held on Mondays for beginners at 5:45 p.m. and for intermediate dancers at 6:30 p.m.
Floyd danced with the group and has been dancing with Manriquez since she was seven. She will be taking over the class since this will be the last year for Manriquez.
“She is fluent in Spanish and she just loves the culture,” said Manriquez. “Her mom and dad have embraced it.”
When the class first started several years ago, there was nothing like it offered in the surrounding area and students would attend from as far as Fresno.
“They would travel from all over just for a 45-minute class and now there are classes being offered in Modesto, Oakdale, and Stockton,” expressed Manriquez.
After the performance youngsters made their way into the library for a bilingual story time and outside were a few tables with crafts like tissue paper flowers and paper plate shakers. They even had a play dough table outside for those that are not so crafty.
“The kids enjoyed the special bilingual Story Time,” said Vicky Holt, Riverbank Library Branch Supervisor. “My favorite one was the one they acted out about the robot, called Boy + Bot by Ame Dykeman.”
Library volunteers Amaya Gutierrez and Arianna Garcia were in charge of a table where guests could make their own custom egg maracas.
“We had a wonderful Día celebration,” stated Holt. “I think both children and parents alike enjoyed themselves.
“It was a beautiful day to have the Ballet Folklorico dancers and crafts outside.”
Ballet Folklorico Viva Mexico will be performing next Sunday at St. Frances of Rome at their annual church festival at 1 p.m.
Meanwhile, there will be a coupon workshop on Saturday, April 23 at 2 p.m. at the Riverbank Library hosted by the Modesto Money Mavens.
All events and activities at the library are free to the public.