Silvìa Abila, originally from Mexico, started a local Mexican folklore dance group in Greensboro with the help and support of her daughter, Fabiola Galan, and her friends. Branching off from the group, Tonalli Danza, in Athens, Georgia, Abila has been building up her group for almost a year.
“They used to travel, but then it just got to be too much. That’s when this all started … and kids just kept coming,” said Galan.
The group has grown quickly over the past year, but gathering the materials needed for the group to perform has been a struggle.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of costumes,” Galan explained. “So she [Silvia] came up with the money to buy further costumes, but then all that money has to be given back.”
The costumes themselves are not cheap. Abila and Galan explained how each one is handmade in Mexico and then shipped to the states. According to Abila, one pair of shoes made out of genuine leather cost almost $300.
“It gets to be very expensive. Each kid might have three or four costumes. It’s a lot, especially when you have twenty kids. We’re still trying to pay that off.”
In order to pay it off, the families have started selling Mexican food at various events in Greensboro and beyond. Friends in neighboring cities such as Athens have also held fundraisers for the dance group.
“Different families will come together and say, ‘Well, I’ll bring this,’ and ‘I’ll bring that,’” Galan explained. “Then all the money that comes from that we return back into the funding that we got.”
Getting together to practice can also be a challenge, especially in the colder months or on rainy days. Because Abila and the families cannot afford to rent a space to practice, they practice outside in a park just outside of downtown Greensboro.
Despite these hurdles, Abila’s dance group is thriving. The group is twenty kids strong, with the youngest being about five and the oldest being sixteen. Not to mention that the moms like to have some fun as well.
“Many of the moms dance too,” said Galan. “Not me, of course. But she does.” Galan motioned toward her mother.
Everybody pitches in with effort and food and everything,” said Galan. “It’s good.”
Abila’s dance group also allows her to spend more time with her grandchildren and friends. Christian Canales, one of Abila’s grandsons, loves dancing with the group. He used to dance with Tonalli, but now he is glad that he can still do what he loves in his hometown and have time for other activities.
“Monday, dance. Tuesday, karate. Wednesday, Awana. Thursday, we can rest, and Friday we dance!”
Rebecca Wright is a senior majoring in journalism in Grady College Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.