A year of Zoom dance classes was mostly a better-than-nothing proposition for the dozens of dance teachers and hundreds of dance students, both adults and children, who make up the incredibly diverse community of dancers and dance styles in Santa Fe. Now, many classes are meeting live, and the Mono Mundo World Dance Festival will be a chance for local dancers to perform in public for the first time in about 18 months. The festival will take place at the Santa Fe Plaza Bandstand from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 8 (nmdancecoalition.org/events.html).
The nonprofit New Mexico Dance Coalition’s board decided to proceed with this year’s festival, so a call went out in a group email in May. The response was tepid, says Jasmine Quinsier, who helps organize the event. “I was freaking out. I thought, ‘I’d better be brushing up on my own dancing.’” Then, after vaccination rates increased to the point that the Governor opened things up in July, everything changed. “All of a sudden, wham, everybody starting coming out of the woodwork,” she says. “I had to ask the city if we could expand the length of our show on the bandstand so we could fit everyone in.
“There are more kids involved this year than ever before,” she says. “We have the XO Company — 3-10 year-olds from NDI (National Dance Institute) — La Emi’s Flamenco Youth de Santa Fe, kids also performing flamenco from Moving Arts Española, and a combination kid and adult group of step dancers from Belisama Irish Dance.”
It’s going to be a packed show, Quinsier says. Groups of dancers are allowed 10 minutes on stage; solos are given five. Within that time frame, a mindboggling variety of dance styles will be on display. 3HC Holy Faith Breakdancers, well-known for school and church performances, will perform; Mosaic Dance Company and the Saltanah Dancers offer different styles of Middle-Eastern Dance, often known as belly dance. Zircus Erotique is a local group dedicated to burlesque. Natalie Nayun specializes in folkloric dance and will be demonstrating the Uzbek style. Elli Hindmarch is a swing dancer, and the group 505 Swing will offer both swing and tap dancing.
Formed in 1986 by dancers for dancers, New Mexico Dance Coalition’s mission included presenting the annual Mono Mundo Festival and a choreographer’s showcase held in the spring at the Railyard Performance Center, as well as raising money for local performing groups and scholarships for young dancers. They also help dance teachers access affordable liability insurance. “We haven’t been able to offer any funding for a while,” Quinsier says. While the bandstand program is free to the public, the Dance Coalition is always accepting donations (nmdancecoalition.org).
“It’s been a tough time for dance teachers, not just dancers,” she says. But times have changed. “It’s alive out there. All kinds of groups are coming together. Dancers are chomping at the bit. It feels like a very special time.”