Opera-sized (or bigger!) Headdresses

While the Quetzal Ollin Chicahua (see the blog posting "Traditional Aztec Dancers and a Surprise" for more info) were in the Houston area, I was privileged to attend a special ceremony at Peckerwood Gardens, northwest of the city.

The Gardens are a remarkable setting and include a collection of arare plants native to a wide region of the southern United States and to Mexico, mingled with their Asian counterparts.

For the better part of an hour, the dancers performed dances that connected the audience with Mother Earth and various animals.  Like the performances they provided for our school partners, Neff and Twain Elementary, it was interactive.  Audience members were invited to join in on many of the dances.

You can see from the photos at right that their clothing is extremely ornate, and the headdresses are beyond compare.

We're very much looking forward to their return!

From Houston to Bogotá, Colombia

Connection is one of HGOco's fundamental philosophies, especially in our Song of Houston series.  Today's post highlights the work of 4th Grade students at Neff Elementary, who have chosen to become pen pals with schoolchildren from Bogotá, Colombia.

These enterprising young Neff students have planned a year's worth of various forms of communication, including an introductory letter, a holiday card, a postcard (hand-drawn) of Houston, a February friendship card, an acrostic poem and a goodbye letter.  This fun-filled work involves curricular goals from the social studies TEKS and will help students improve their fluency and literacy (two of their Smart Goals), resulting in better classroom participation and improved test scores.

We sent the first batch of correspondence a week or so ago - 154 letters in total for students and staff alike.  Some of the students agreed to share copies of their first letters with us.  You can see a few samples on the Neff Fridge on our website.  Enjoy!

This work is part of our Song of Houston project celebrating Mexico 2010.  For more info on the entire project, visit our Mexico 2010 webpage.

Traditional Aztec dance and a surprise!

Unique opportunities keep cropping up in our Song of Houston project celebrating Mexico 2010. Through our collaboration with the US Forest Service, we've been introduced to a force of nature! No, really, a force of nature.

On Nov. 4th, HGOco presented two performances of traditional Aztec dance by Mexico City-based Quetzal Ollin Chicahua. The first performance took place in the Pershing Middle School Auditorium for an audience of 3rd - 5th grade students from neighboring Mark Twain Elementary School and a few classes from Pershing. A full house of 425 enthusiastic fans was all that Chicahua needed.  And their surprise...snakes!

The second performance of the day took place at Neff Elementary School for approx. 500 students from 1st, 3rd and 4th grades.  Lots of interactivity - teachers dancing, students playing instruments, and favorite animal dances.  Take a look at the fun, but don't despair if you missed out - we hope to host Chicahua again, on their next trip to Houston:

Special thanks - AND BUTTERFLY APPLAUSE - to Tamberly Conway, the Conservation Education Coordinator with National Forests and Grasslands in Texas and HGOco's local US Forest Service partner, for all of her help in arranging Chicahua's visit to Houston!