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Dancing through cultures


EC student Jessica Navvaro might be found parading down the streets of Paterson with a great anthem of Spanish cultural music during a Peruvian festival. That’s because she is a Peruvian cultural dancer who dances for special events that impact her community.

Like Jessica, an array of students at our diverse school also dance culturally. This affects the way they interact with their culture, others, and God.

Many students at EC think dance is an essential part of their culture and a key aspect of keeping their culture alive through all generations. Sophomore Siuneh Tombalakian, says she dances, “To keep the Armenian culture alive because there already are so few of us.” Siuneh referred to the dwindling numbers of Armenians due to the Armenian Genocide during the early 20th century, in which the Ottoman Turks persecuted Armenians for their Christian beliefs. Siuneh has been dancing since she was 5 years old and has made many relationships with other dancers that have been impactful for her. Siuneh states, “It's become a part of me, and so many people I look up to are in my dance class.”

Meanwhile, Jessica says that she has grown close bonds with other cultural dancers that she works with. For Jessica, dancing is not only about the dance but it's about what the dance represents to her, her family, and the people who share in her culture. Jessica loves to dance because she wants people to feel free to express themselves through their own culture and not be afraid of who they are. “Be yourself. You might not want to say anything about your culture, but it's where you're from, never be ashamed of who you are,” said Jessica.

Many cultures use dancing liturgically, most notably the Ethiopian Orthodox Church who in their services uses a drum and sistrums with dancing to worship God. Many students also use dancing as a form of worshiping God here at EC to express the majesty of God that can be felt through the power of dance.

Taline Madalian an Armenian Christian who also has been dancing for several years concludes, “I feel like, through community, we strengthened the bond of our faith, since Armenia is a Christian nation. Dancing together helps us to retain our principles, core values, and faith.”

 

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