Dance festival honors 5,700 indigenous people once buried in Dolores Park

UPDATE: Due to the possibility of rain, the majority of the programming has been moved inside the Dance Mission Theater from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. See the FLACC website for more details.

The October light is soft, the air soft and the children as exuberant as the four-legged antics which also soak up the last rays of the sun that will send everyone home. Yet not everyone leaves this magical place, Dolores Park. At the edge of it, across Mission High School, a small group gathered around a spot marked by dark orange marigold and burning incense. They are members of the FLACC (Festival of Contemporary Choreographers from Latin America) Community Dance, a collection of like-minded artists who have developed their own contribution to The eighth (and first outdoor) celebration of FLACC, sii agua si: Remember the waterways in Yelamu, Sat / 23 the 18th without traffice Street from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Until 2014, San Francisco’s dance community, considered by some to be the second in the country after you know who, shamefully under-represented the work of its Latino / Hispanic dancers. Unless you think Folklorico was. FLACC’s founding artistic director and senior curator, Liz Duran Boubion, filled the void. The annual Latinx Contemporary Dance Showcase has become the focal point of this growing and increasingly diverse group of dance and performance artists.

For this year’s festival, after many of us were confined to the house, FLACC decided to go outside. But where? A BART station? Coit Tower? The pier? After learning more about government bureaucracies, Boubion always thought she wanted to know, the decision fell to 18e Street between Dolores and Church. This is an opportunity, she said, to examine “land management issues” and to look with and on the history of indigenous peoples. “Sii agua sí” has two stories; neither pretty. And yet, perhaps they can offer hope.

Violeta Luna will perform as part of ‘sii agua sí’

Imagine the facade of Mission High with its pseudo-Spanish facade, looking at the remains of what was once an open landscape with coves, lagoons and even a small village. . But their land was stolen, they were brutalized, enslaved and they were killed. The colonization of the area received another blow when, after the earthquake of 1907, San Francisco decided it did not need the flowing open water route 18e Street between the church and Dolores. They locked up this living resource in hard cement.

But not all of the natives left. Many remember what was once the “home”. FLACC reached out to these voices and, with the special contribution of the Ohlone elders, they shaped the festival along two main axes: honoring the life force of water and paying homage to the people who lived and cared for the Earth.

A mural by Pancho Pescador, which will embellish the festival sidewalk with art.

The opening ceremony will be led by Kanyon Sayers-Roods / “Coyote Woman” before Adrian Arias and Pancho Pescador embellish the sidewalk with their wall art; in the evening, Ben Wood’s video projections of light and water will add their twilight sparkle. A sound installation of stream water by Audiopharmacy’s DJ Ras K’Dee as well as various dances and offerings will make you forget the usual roaring traffic.

Throughout the day, dancers from the FLAAC community will pay homage in their own way. Don’t be surprised if some people appropriate bike racks, twirl around trees or come out of the depths of Dolores Park. For chef Tony Cerda, 82, who lives in Pomona, the visit of his “12 Hummaya Singers and Dancers of the Costanoan Rumsen Carmel Tribe” might just be bittersweet. His ancestors are buried on the grounds of Mission Dolores.

Kevin Gaytan will perform at the festival. Photo by Hector Jaime

Until very recently, the Mission, a popular tourist spot, recognized its cemetery as a resting place for the first officials and about 500 natives. Boubion’s research uncovered a more precise count: around 5,700. Many of them were re-buried in a mass grave as the mission downsized its cemetery for the local development of real estate, parking lots and public buildings. city ​​streets.

It is painful to think that perhaps Dolores Park was a resting place for the original inhabitants. In the evening, FLACC artists Kevin Gaytan, Mariana Sobral and Violeta Luna present works on water, queer Latinity and immigration. Gregg Castro’s commemorative video for the 5,700 ancestors will close the evening.

Boubion really wanted a more complete testimony of these ancestors, but could not achieve it with the powers that be. “But,” she said, “we’ll be back next year and hope they get on board in time.”

sii agua si: Remember the waterways in Yelamu will take place on Saturday 23, 5-10 p.m., now at the Dance Mission Theater. More info here.

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