By TRINA BERNAL
Have you ever wanted to travel to other places in the world and immerse yourself in their culture? BHS Leadership decided to bring a small piece of a few cultures to Benicia High School by creating Panther Passport Week.
This is the second year Benicia High has provided something like Panther Passport Week; last year, it was called “Multicultural Celebration Week,” but students suggested the new term “Panther Passport Week.” Lauren Calica (11) helped put the event together, as well as Young Audiences Northern California, an arts education-based organization. Previously, they gave Benicia High other great programs like Black History Month and the mural creation project in the quad back in October. Benicia High Leadership and Mrs. Kleinschmidt knew they had to pick groups that represented Benicia High’s diversity, and that was also fun and enjoyable to watch and be part of.
So on the week of Monday, April 1 through Friday, April 5, Benicia High celebrated a culture for each of the days of the week in the PAB; Mexican Ballet Folklórico on April 1, Hawaiian Hālau o Keikiali’i on April 2, Mindanao Journey – Filipino Dance on April 3, and Brazilian Martial Arts: ABADÁ-Capoeira San Francisco on April 4. In addition, BUSD Food Services gave complimentary food samples, served by Benicia High Leadership students, for each of the allotted days, which various students claimed was “delicious and scrumptious.”
The first group that performed was the Mexican Ballet Folklórico, a world-renowned Mexican ensemble art that reflects the values that of the Mexican population. Founded by National Institute of Fine Arts choreographer Amalia Hernández in 1952, a group ranging of 8-50 dancers aim to preserve the folk dance rooted in Mexican folk legends.
The second group to share their culture is the Hawaiian Hālau o Keikiali’i, a long-established Hawaiian cultural performance group, based in San Francisco. Young Audiences of North California state the group’s goal is “to spread awareness of the Hawaiian people and their traditional customs, values and rituals.” Through the powerful dance and music the dancers and musicians perform onstage, Benicia High students are able to immerse themselves a little deeper in the history of Hawaiian culture.
The next group to showcase their culture and history was the Mindanao Journey, a Filipino dance where people get to witness the energetic yet graceful traditional Filipino dance style of polyrhythms. With performers donning bright colored attire and drumming various indigenous items, the audience can venture into a new story where everything is optimistic and happy.
Brazilian Martial Arts: ABADÁ-Capoeira San Francisco is another performance group whose purpose is to preserve the culture of their native history. Abada “works to preserve, develop, and share the martial art of capoeira with integrity, and to use capoeira and culture to build a healthy, just, and vibrant society in which people feel connected to and responsible for their community.” Master capoeira artist Márcia Treidler (“Mestra Cigarra”) established the performance art with the belief that any and everyone can succeed, irregardless of socioeconomic status, identity, or ability. From initially reaching a humble 600 participants and staff in the Mission District facility, they now reach 15,000 people.
Daela Webb (12) went to three events (Mexican, Hawaiian, and Brazilian) the past week and thought it was a “great representation of different cultures that also showcased their lifestyles and customs.” Throughout the event Webb saw a lot of Snapchats of people going onstage so it was fun. Though everything struck a chord in Webb, her favorite was the Hawaiian stage “the dances had meaning, where every move represented a part of their culture.”
Let’s applaud the performance groups, Principal Kleinschmidt, and Benicia High Leadership for putting this amazing week of events together.