Cuicalli Escuela de Danza perform in front of “The Phoenix” by Li’l Lango. Photo by Jeanita Lyman

Choreographers and muralists invested hours of work to make Sunday’s Baile en la Calle event a success that engaged a small crowd in dancing, art, and social justice.

“We were here until the sun went down to finish,” Tirso Gonzalez Araiza told the crowd gathered at Ralph Maradiaga Children’s Park.

Jakey Toor performs with Cuicalli Dance Company in front of “500 Años de Resistencia” by Isaias Mata. Photo by Jeanita Lyman

Araiza was the lead artist on “El Juego de la Resistencia,” (the Resistance Game) the freshly restored mural that was unveiled at the park yesterday.

Brava Theater collaborated with the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District Arts Consortium to arrange for the third annual Baile en la Calle, featuring a mural tour in which dancers performed choreography that complimented each mural.

“We brought together different entities of arts and culture,” Calle 24 President Erick Arguello said. “We brought in dance, different types of music, like hip hop. It really brought the whole community together, to educate, to talk about the murals, to display our arts and culture and get people out to experience what the Mission’s culture is about.”

Epiphany Productions Sonic Dance kicked off the tour at 24th and Florida, performing a work choreographed by Kim Epifano in front of a mural by Jonathan Matas. The group’s creative use of space set the stage for the rest of the performances.

Cuicacalli Dance Company performs in front of “500 Años de Resistencia” by Isaias Mata. Photo by Jeanita Lyman

Although the mood was festive and celebratory, the event was not without deeper social commentary. Cuicacalli Dance Company, concluded their performance with their fists raised in solidarity with protestors in Baltimore. The mural they performed in front of, “500 Años de Resistencia,” was itself an homage to the displacement of native people.

Younger dancers took to the concrete stage in front of “The Phoenix” by Li’l Lango. Cuicacalli Escuela de Danza, under the direction and choreographic guidance of Jesus Lopez, offered a more classic take on the project with traditional ballet folkorica.

Baile en la Calle concluded with a performance by Moving Beyond Productions in front of the newly revamped “El Juego de la Resistencia” at Ralph Maradiaga Childrens’ Park, where the re-dedication ceremony for the park and mural followed.

Araiza initially painted the mural in 1988. It was removed several years ago due to lack of maintenance. Araiza then restored the mural, making several updates to the piece. Its essence remained, however, a homage to the late artist and Galería cofounder Ralph Maradiaga, a beloved source of inspiration to the muralists.

Epiphany Productions Sonic Dance perform with “Untitled” by Jonathan Matas. Photo by Jeanita Lyman

“He always gave us energy and hope,” said René Yañez, co-founder of Galeria de la Raza, which is part of Calle 24. “When Ralph passed, there was a vacuum in our hearts and the Chicano community.”

“It is only through artistic social and political ideologies that we ascertain and retain a place in history and document it for our children,” reads a quote from Maradiaga in “El Juego de la Resistencia.” The message was emphasized by the speakers at the ceremony.

“Politicians use our art and culture to attract new colonizers,” Araiza told the crowd. “This city would not be the same without us.”

Arguello addressed the crowd to underline the importance of keeping arts and culture alive in the Mission in the face of its rapidly changing landscape, noting that 10,000 people have been displaced under the Ellis act and that Yañez was recently evicted.

Grupo Bombalélé, headed by Julia C. Cepeda and Denise Solis, engaged the audience in a call and response performance while the restored mural was blessed. They closed the event with more drumming, singing and dancing to celebrate the return of “El Juego de la Resistencia.”

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