The group is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year in a special performance with more than 30 dances at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at UW’s Meany Hall.

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Bailadores de Bronce, a Mexican folkloric dancing group, will celebrate an important milestone in Seattle this week: Its 45th birthday.

A group of University of Washington students started the group in 1972 to share pride in their Mexican heritage through highly choreographed dance and music. The founders named the troupe Bailadores de Bronce, or “Bronze Dancers,” during the Chicano Movement as a way of expressing pride in the color of their skin.

The group will celebrating its 45th year in a special performance with more than 30 dances at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at UW’s Meany Hall.

On a recent evening at Seattle Center Armory building, Julian Perez and Andrea LaVare Malagon could be found practicing with the group.

Another dancer, Sarah Ramirez, 17, of Sammamish, joined the group a few years ago. She says she learned the intricate footwork, skirtwork and facial expressions share deep stories with rich history.

“Every state in Mexico has its own style of dance,” says Ramirez. “It has its own dresses, its own music, it’s own certain steps. …When people see us dance they see a part of Mexico. For example, my grandma, or my aunts or my mom when they see me they always end up crying because it’s something they left behind. …They remember their childhood, and they remember all of the happy times.”

Members of Bailadores de Bronce, a 45-year-old Mexican folkloric dance troupe, share how the art form tells stories, shares history and builds community. (Erika Schultz and Corinne Chin / The Seattle Times)

Her high-school classmate Anthony Hernandez, 17, said he didn’t grow up with a lot of Hispanic influences, and dancing helped him find a deeper understanding of himself.

Anniversary Performance

WHAT: Bailadores de Bronce’s 45th anniversary celebration, “Alma de Bronce”

WHEN: Saturday, June 24

WHERE: University of Washington’s Meany Hall

INFO/TICKETS: bailadoresdebronce.org

“It’s definitely made me realize that this is part of who I am,” Hernandez says. “It’s really helped me connect back to my Hispanic roots, and it’s really important for me to keep doing it and make sure I can share it with as many people as I can.”

For Gino Garcia, 29, who moved to Seattle four years ago, joining the troupe helped build community and makes Washington feel more like home. He said Bailadores de Bronce builds community connections, keeps storytelling alive and preserves and promotes culture.

“It’s so important right now because there are a lot of people who are feeling scared, they are feeling like maybe their lives or their rights are at stake,” says Garcia. “Doing these dances and being a part of this art form are really important because they are reminders that we are here and that we are a part of this fabric in the United States — that our stories matter, and that these stories need to be told.”

Luna Garcia practices to “La Guacamaya” from the state of Veracruz during rehearsal with the Bailadores de Bronce, a Mexican folkloric dancing troupe, on a recent evening Seattle Center’s Armory building. The group is celebrating it’s 45th anniversary this year with a specialperformance with more than 30 dances at7 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at UW’s Meany Hall. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times)
Luna Garcia practices to “La Guacamaya” from the state of Veracruz during rehearsal with the Bailadores de Bronce, a Mexican folkloric dancing troupe, on a recent evening Seattle Center’s Armory building. The group is celebrating it’s 45th anniversary this year with a specialperformance with more than 30 dances at7 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at UW’s Meany Hall. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times)