For five Idaho teens, dancing is how they tell the stories of Mexico. The oldest members of the Oyamel Folkloric Dancers are all cousins whose grandmother inspires them to carry on the traditions of her home country.
“My grandma is Hispanic and she really wanted me to be more of a part of her culture and experience that,” says Dayvis, who’s been dancing since he was 7.
The cousins—Dayvis, Abigail, Helena, Jayf, and KJ—perform throughout the year at schools and at festivals and other community events. They practice at least once a week in Nampa, making it a priority to meet even as they juggle schedules brimming with other activities like cross country, soccer, wrestling, tennis, band, and school dance teams.
“Dancing keeps me sane,” says Abigail. “It’s given me more grace and has taught me that it’s important to go all in on something you love.”
Each of these teens is passionate about sharing their heritage with others.
“It’s fun but it’s even better to see people come watch and enjoy it,” says Jayf. Helena agrees, adding “I like to see the people smile—that’s my favorite part.”
The cousins recognize that traditional dancing isn’t on most teens’ radars, and that’s a-ok with them.
“I get to do something unique,” says Jayf. “You don’t just see people on the street and they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m in a Mexican dance group.’ ”
They encourage other teens to dive into whatever makes them happy.
“Just do what you want, and have fun,” suggests Dayvis.