Yesterday I had the good fortune to meet Claudio Gutierrez, a 21 year old from Tustin, California, which is between Santa Ana and Laguna Beach. I met Claudio on YouTube yesterday when he commented on the documentary film we made about the Dance of the Feather http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cpr4dBi-6h4 Claudio, whose nickname is Kalo, was born in Teotitlan del Valle and moved to the USA with his family when he was 11 years old. He’s in college studying design engineering.
Kalo loves everything about his culture and maintains a YouTube page that posts Teotitlan-related videos, especially those about the Dance of the Feather. He says he never felt so strongly about his town and his culture before until about a year and a half ago when he made a commitment and promise to become a Danzante. I watched Kalo’s video with awe and saw children and young adults perform the exact same Dance of the Feather in Santa Ana as is performed in Teotitlan del Valle. His video opens up with a photo of the village church, scenes of Picacho and community life. Dancers are recognized with their double Spanish names and the names of their padres (parents), honoring the family relationships that keep people connected for generations. Now, I see, the strong bonds link Mexican families who live in the United States through this cultural dance tradition. Food, celebration, dance all bring meaning to cultural identity. One does not need to live in the Oaxaca valley to be Zapotec.
Kalo says, “I feel a very strong connection to my town. Many times I start reminiscing about the good times that I had in my childhood. I started to do more research and I feel so proud to be from Teotitlan, especially when I see other people from different backgrounds who are interested in learning about our culture and traditions.
MySpace, says Kalo, is a popular place for young people to communicate. This is where he has made a page about Teotitlan. “I am just trying to tell our younger generation to be thankful for what we have and be proud of our roots and not forget about it. There are many young people here who do care about Teotitlan, too.”
I know that Kalo would love to hear from you and get your feedback. Please contact him directly.