/families/out-about/connecting-to/hispanic-heritage

¡Vamos a Celebrar!

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage through the arts

Overview

Dance fever!

Get your kids moving through hip-swinging, hand-clapping Latin dance. Download Latin music and create a sampler CD. Mix styles and regions, including basic Latin dance music. While many Latin dances are complex and demanding, some like the cha-cha and salsa are built around simple, teachable moves. (For added flavor, you and your kids can make Latin percussion instruments, like maracas and bongos, using common items like beans, balloons, and coffee cans.)

Every year, between September 15th and October 15th, communities around the country celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with arts-filled festivals, exhibits, concerts, and parades. The arts offer a fun and lasting way for you and your family to explore the richness of Hispanic history and culture.

Musica

Music, like no other art form, reflects the true variety of Hispanic culture. From the gentle strumming of Tejana ballads to the driving beats of Puerto Rican Reggaetón, Latin music reveals a still-evolving story of emigration and integration, tradition and change. Caribbean Latin music, including Puerto Rico’s bomba and plena, echoes the region’s West African roots. Joropo, characterized by syncopated rhythms, percussive harps and oversized bandola guitars, is the music of Colombia’s cattle-herding Mestizo people. During Hispanic Heritage Month, live music can be heard, often free, at many festivals and parades. Sample Latin music on your local Spanish-language radio station, or consult our Themes section for music and video clips.

Bailando

From ballroom cha-cha to the intimate Spanish flamenco, Latin dance reveals the ancient traditions of Hispanic culture as well as its history of emigration and adaptation. Cuban folkloric dance, like the Orisha dances that honor Yoruba gods, for example, reflect Cuba’s African roots along with the influences of Spain and America. Take your children to see the local, national and international dance troupes that perform frequently during Hispanic Heritage Month. In addition, Hispanic festivals and parades boast an array of dancers to inspire young people to get moving.

Teatro

Latin theater is a powerful way to introduce teens and pre-teens to the richness of Hispanic culture. Since the debut of Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit in 1978, Hispanic theater has been booming in America. Many cities boast their own Latino theater, including Valdez’s Teatro Campesino in San Juan Bautisto, California, INTAR in New York and the Miracle Theatre Group in Portland, Oregon, with Latin-themed plays and educational outreach programs that invite families to sit in on rehearsals and readings.

Murals

Murals have long been a favorite form for Latin painters, from the legendary Diego Rivera to the “lowrider” artists of Los Angeles. Often they depict scenes from Hispanic history, or express symbolically aspects of Latin culture. Murals are also one of the most popular modes of public art and can be found in many communities around the country. Discover whether your community has any Hispanic murals, either as part of a fine arts collection or a public space, and explore them with your family.

Cinema

Latinos have been a staple of Hollywood cinema ever since silent movie star Rudolph Valentino first flared his nostrils on the silver screen. Contemporary Hispanic filmmaker Gregory Nava creates films that explore the difficult journey of Hispanic immigrants to America with humor and sensitivity. Teenagers will appreciate his honest depictions of young people struggling to find their place in a hostile world. Nava’s movies include the Oscar®-nominated El Norte; My Family; and Selena as well as the Emmy-nominated PBS series American Family. Available on DVD, Nava’s films are perfect fare for an inspiring night of family viewing.

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