We had the good fortune of connecting with Hilda Estrella de Lev and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hilda, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
I believe that our performances help the appreciation of Mexican culture, for my students, their families, the public and anyone who is watching and listening. When I introduce a dance, I try to explain a bit about what it is about, where it comes from, what is the weather and the geography like, to give a better understanding of where it comes from, if it is a live tradition or a representation of what it was, a little bit of the history and how its been shaped throughout the years.
I believe knowledge is power and it builds bridges. When you start learning from others and their culture, it gives space to communication, understanding and other good things, like tolerance, empathy and more.
I also believe, representation is very important, and when it comes with dignity and respect it is even better.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Danza foklorica Mexicana is a dance that present traditional dances from different parts of Mexico, the objective is to preserve and to promote the culture and to show the variety and richness of the country. Our group is inclusive for all ages and levels of dancing. I like to be as true to the original dances as possible, with outfits and style, all while making it entertaining.
I had profesional dance studies in Mexico and came to this country with teaching and performance experience. Originally I had no intentions of having a group, but life took me here.
In Mexico, everyone has to do some kind of folklorico dance in elementary and middle school, so, the dance and cultural knowledge is not the same.
The life style, the mind set, the distances and amount of time that students can invest in dance is different. It was not easy to adapt. I am still learning in balancing my expectations and in what it can be done in a certain amount of time.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take it to visit Buford Farmers Market, then have a coffee stop at White Windmill in Buford. I would take it to Botanical Gardens and visit a Thai Restaurant afterwards.
Another day to walk in Stone Mountain.
One of the evenings to have a bonfire at home and eat quesadillas.
If the visitor is from Mexico I would go to visit the local library and explain how it works.
Another day depending of the preferences, either the Aquarium or World of Coca Cola.
Either walk or drive through downtown and Midtown.
If time is good, go to the Indian Temple in Lawrenceville Hwy and maybe Indian restaurant after that.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people who has helped me personally and helped Alma Mexicana Atlanta to become what it is now. My mother, I cannot list everything that she has given me. My husband, which is my rock , my support, if not for him, there would be no dance group. My family, my children which are my angels. My students, past, present and future ones and their families, that have supported us tremendously.
Institutions like the Latin American Association were the first ones to open the doors for me.
Danceando Promotions have helped us in many different ways to share our love for Mexico .
The Consulate of Mexico in Atlanta and their sister institutions, for backing our efforts.
All my teachers, colleagues, and collaborators from Mexico for all of their continuous support from afar.
And lastly but as important, to all of the people who have clapped for us and seen our performance, sharing a moment with us. To all that have seen our pictures and videos and have rooted for us.
THANK YOU ALL
Picture of me Hilda with the yellow dress and the charro male dancer is by Diana Alford Photography Picture with red dress and charro male dancer and blue/dark background is by Trish Lawrence Photography The rest (except the one with a white house in the background), by Boon Vong Art Photo Design