Megan Stricker in the community of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec
Oaxaca, Mexico: July 2017
Santa María Tlahuitoltepec is a town and municipality in Oaxaca in south-western Mexico. The 98.3% of the inhabitants of more than five years of age of the municipality of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec are speaking some form of indigenous language. Over the course of four weeks, Megan taught 5 days a week, 4 hours a day, 3 different levels, and 4 different styles of dance. She provided classes for everyone in town from the four-year-olds to their mothers. In the span of these four weeks Megan was able to choreograph set pieces for these students, culminating in a final performance. The impact of these classes was a seed, developing dance in the community for years to come.
After the first week of Megan’s classes, she asked Maestra Irma what, in her opinion, the importance of her visit and teaching was. Maestra Irma responded: “We want the arts to be living, vibrant, and flourishing in this community. As a child I was fortunate to be in the first band, in a class of seven here in Tlahui. And it has been an honor to see how music has grown and impacted our community. I want the same to happen for dance here. And I’ve been advocating and trying. The students love dance, you always see the smiles on their faces in class, and they always ask me for more, but I am only one teacher. You have had the privilege of attending excellent schools and receiving prestigious training. You have a gift and a power to give the community that which I can not provide.”
“I realized I was doing work that was a part of something bigger than myself. And that the community truly wanted me and needed me there. How I most enjoyed seeing my students grow was not just as dancers, but as people. They gained a stronger confidence in themselves, their own power and worth, and an understanding of their bodies and how they can communicate with them.”