By Madison Grant-Neary
As part of a seven-week fall dance tour, the Nicaraguan dance troupe Daughters of Corn performed at UNH. On Thursday evening, Nicaraguan music filled the Strafford room as the dancers made their way across the small stage. The event was dedicated to learning about Nicaraguan Culture, and the non-profit work of Compas de Nicaragua (Friends of Nicaragua), which has the goal, according to the event’s introduction, of promoting cultural exchange and community development through service trips.
This night of Nicaraguan culture was brought together by Mosaico, Waysmeet, and the UNH departments of political science, women’s studies, and Latin American studies.
When asked why Mosaico wanted to be one of the event’s sponsors, co-president Ashley Gonzalez said, “Because it’s an amazing opportunity to bring Latino culture to UNH.”
According to the organization’s videos, shown in between its troupe’s dances, Compas de Nicaragua was founded in 1993 by Ash Eames. Currently, with the help of executive director Michael Boudreau and project coordinator Ana Narvaez, the organization is responsible for two projects.
In the poor urban neighborhood of La Primavera, the Woman in Action project has helped the mostly women-headed households acquire their own simple homes, send their children to school and start small businesses, like selling tortillas, with small micro loans. In La Paz, their second project focuses on sustainable farming, where Compas de Nicaragua helps farmers navigate their two largest obstacles: finances and the changing climate.
In Nicaragua there are two types of traditional dance, however in a world where modern change often replaces old traditions, the video stated that most of the youth has forgotten about traditional dancing. Despite this, the Daughters of Corn performed both Pacific style dances with Spanish influence, and dances from the Atlantic coast influenced by the Caribbean.
When asked what the most important part of the dance tour is, Boudreau said, “The importance of (the Daughters of Corn’s) work, and the importance of cultural exchange, and their talent.”
Though Compas de Nicaragua has a great impact on the communities in which they work, the impact on the people volunteering seemed to be just as profound. Boudreau recalled his first trip to Nicaragua, where he was surprised by the little material wealth, in comparison to the people’s great happiness saying, “This has been a learning experience.”
Audience member Sadie Kaplan left the event with the same perspective.
“Even with less, they were so happy, it makes me think we have so much we should be grateful for,” she said.
Though not all the dancers are part of the Woman in Action community, they are from La Primavera neighborhood. With the help of Boudreau’s translation, the dancers were asked what their favorite part of being on tour is. One of the six members voiced that the ability to give back to their community was their favorite thing.