Published: Saturday, April 7, 2007
Latino event set at Chaney
Lucy Nieves is excited when she talks to me about an upcoming event planned at Chaney High School that embraces religious tradition and the virtues of family and social responsibility.
"I really hope you can come," she said. "It is going to be beautiful."
Nieves, who teaches Spanish at Chaney and is the Spanish Club adviser, is coordinating a celebration common in the Latino community called a Quinceanera.
Traditionally, it is the celebration of a young Latina girl turning 15, and a recognition of her journey from childhood to maturity.
It would be akin to a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah in the Jewish community.
The celebration highlights God, family, friends, music, food and dance.
Chaney's Spanish Club will put on the Quinceanera Ball play at 6:30 p.m. April 27 in the high school cafeteria. Tickets are $5 and are available by calling the school at (330) 788-8822 Ext. 3239.
Nieves explains that the quinceanera is one of the most important traditions in the Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American cultures.
The custom can be referred to as a Quince (15) Años, a Quinces, a Quinceanera, a Quinceanero or a Fiesta Rosa.
The celebration traditionally begins with a religious ceremony. A reception is held in the home or a banquet hall. The festivities include food and music, and in most, a choreographed waltz or dance performed by the quinceanera and her court.
The students' play will showcase various Spanish dances, and the quinceanera will perform her transition dance with her father, Nieves said.
The court will be made up of young girls (called Damas) and young men (called Chambeláins).
The girls scheduled to participate are Shanay Jacobs (the Quinceanera), Megan Holmes, Alyia Holmes, Brooke Marlowe, Yadira Colyar, Jasmine Cecil, Kristin Bair, Cassandra Brdek, Melissa Barringer, Holly Ramirez, Emily Smith, Chasity Hallman, Arthrece Williams, Cra-Terra Perry, Shanae Adams, Blasina Martinez, Stephanie Rosa, Mercedes Robinson, Monica Figueroa, Rosa Hernandez, Solita Wilson and Kyra Christy-Riley.
The boys scheduled to participate are Mateo Ethan Rivera, Nathan Kelley, Isaiah Fason, Nathan Brown, Ivan Ferguson, Akeem Miller, Jonathan Rivera, Erick Preston, Scott Williams, William Tomlin, Jason Martin-Culet, Jeremee Davis, Dwaylon Gibbs and Anthony Elberty.
Participating as parents of the quinceanera are Belinda Vodhanel and Jerome Harrell. Godparents will be portrayed by Dean Edna Douglas and Serafhin Okello.
Like a bride
The quinceanera usually wears a ball gown, with her court dressed in gowns and tuxedos. Two important meanings behind the quinceanera are that the young woman is supposed to represent the bride of Christ, and she also is to represent a bride waiting for her future groom.
The origins of the quinceanera are attributed to the ancient customs of the Aztec Indians about 500 B.C. At the age of 15 during those times, many girls left their homes to become wives and mothers, Nieves explained. The celebration as it is practiced in this country became popular in the 1930s and continues to this day.
"A quinceanera is a very special event happening only once in a girl's life, so it is time for rejoicing in the miracle of life and reaffirming one's commitment to family, friends, tradition and community," Nieves said.
She said Principal Robert Spencer has been supportive of having the event at the school and invitations have been sent out to community leaders, including Mayor Jay Williams.
Music is provided by Amir Aziz. Chico Gonzalez will serve as disc jockey for the festivities after the play, and Jada Yancy is choreographer. Nieves said kudos also go to Sarahy Merced, who is helping with the production, and all the parents who allowed their children to participate.
The event is open to the public, so come on out and get a glimpse of this rich ethnic tradition.