Bésame en tiempo de vals, un dos tres un dos tres, sin parar de bailar.
When you hear that song at a quinceañera, you know what time it is: the moment for a choreographed vals the damas and chambelanes have spent weeks practicing. Practice doesn’t always make perfect, though. Take a look:
The Chambelanes and Damas Who’ve Got Their Friend’s Back
Like so many corners of the globe, the Ballet world has long poured over and favored the concept of whiteness.
The “ballet blanc” is a perfect example of that. Ballet blanc or “white ballet” is a scene in a ballet performance where the performers all wear white dresses or tutus. Deeply tied to its performance is a school of thought that suggests there shouldn’t be any black dancers in the corps de ballet because the identical nature of the performers is key to the performance.
If you ever took a ballet class yourself, you also know that racism exists in ballet thanks to your first-hand experiences with the tights and shoes you bought for your classes. Most likely you noticed that the “nude” color tights and slippers you were required to wear only came in colors called “European pink.” The issue has brought about a long and laborious process Black ballerinas are subjected to endure called “pancaking.” To make the pink and peach-colored ballet shoes match their skin tones, Black dancers beat their shoes with makeup so that they match their skin tones.
In light of the current fight against ongoing racial injustices, thousands are signing petitions calling on ballet shoes makers to add darker color options to their line of shoes.
To promote the petitions, Briana Bell, a Twitter user and an 18-year-old black dancer from Dallas, explained that ballet shoes are just one of several ways that dancers of color are made to feel as if they do not belong in the world of ballet. “Black ballerinas have constantly been pushed out of the typically and traditionally white ballet world because our bodies aren’t like theirs and this is just another way to make us feel unwanted!” went onto explain in a series of tweets
In an interview with Daily Mail.com Bell explained that “Racial discrimination within the dance world is passive in my experience, but very much still there. Little things like not being able to find your skin tone in leotards, tights, and shoes may seem insignificant, but imagine how embarrassing it is to have to wear tights/leotards/shoes that do not blend with your skin and your white counterpart’s dance attire matches them perfectly. Recently, of course, efforts have been made in the way of leotards and tights but pointe shoes have fallen behind.”
Bell also highlighted the lack of support and awareness of non-POC dancers is what has continued such microaggressions.
“I’ve come to learn from the comments of my post that simple things like this never crossed the minds of many non-POC, because this seems very basic and not like a luxury to them,” she went onto explain in her interview. “But to us it’s a luxury that hasn’t been afforded yet. And while I do understand that there are some businesses that sell various shades of brown pointe shoes online, finding a pointe shoe for you isn’t so easy that you can do it online. We need to go into the shop, get our feet measured, and find the exact shoe for you because there are so many different shapes. If done incorrectly, you can injure yourself.”
Here’s hoping Belle’s petition sparks a change amongst big ballet brands like Capezio and Block.
“These big brands like Capezio and Bloch are more accessible for us because they have shops locally we can walk into,” Belle underlined. “So at this point, it’s either you sacrifice comfort and safety for the color, or you suck it up and paint your shoes after you get them.”
This abuelita always wanted to celebrate her quinces, and now at the age of 79, she finally did. Complete with the event’s classic necessities, a voluminous dress, tiered cake and chambelanes, this young-at-heart viejita made her dream come true. Gives new meaning to the phrase, ‘better late than never’ right?
The emotional story has social media shook—and naturally, it’s gone viral.
Facebook Yolanda Luna
The 79 year-old danced the traditional waltz with not-so-traditional chambelanes. Her dance partners were all her grandchildren. And what’s more; her own daughter planned the whole thing.
“Lo más hermoso que te puede pasar en toda tu vida, es ver a tu mamá feliz”
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Okay so get the tissue ready. This woman knew that her mom’s life-long dream had been to have had celebrated her Quince años with a big party —and equally big dress. And although she’s not quite quince anymore, it’s never too late to make someone’s dream come true. So Yolanda Luna set out to make her mami happy.
79 year old Nina Silva is from La Plata, Argentina.
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When she turned fifteen, her family wasn’t able to throw her the quinceañera party she always wanted, due to economic struggles, so she gave up hope of ever having one. But little did she know that she’d have to wait over 60 years to see her dream come true.
“Tu fiesta de quince años que no tuviste, hoy la estás viviendo como vos querías”
“The quince años party that you never had, you’re now experiencing the way you always wanted it,” read a post that Nina’s daughter Yolanda Luna posted on Facebook about the party.
The abuelita wore a silver and pink dress, and completed the look with a silver tiara.
Facebook Yolanda Luna
The party was made possible thanks to the help of family and friends. Many family members made food for the occasion, and everyone helped get the traditional cake.
No quinceañera would be complete without the traditional waltz.
The quinceañera obviously had her dance, and in Nina’s case, the chambelanes who accompanied her in this dance were all her children and grandchildren —we’re not crying, you’re crying.
Her own children were perhaps happier than the quinceañera herself, who wouldn’t stop smiling all night long.
The family hired a venue, a DJ and got the whole town to come together to celebrate their viejita. “A sus 79 años le cumplimos su sueño de tener su cumple de 15 que no pudo tener,“ wrote another one of Nina’s children, Soledad Luna. “At 79 we made her dream come true.”
Turning 15 is considered a momentous occasion, as it is the moment that they symbolically become young women.
While the quinceañera celebrations may have more in common with a wedding than a birthday party, they’re a traditional and enduringly popular rite of passage for many young Latinas. The Quinceañera, which literally translates to “the girl who is 15,” signifies a young girl’s transition in becoming a woman, and a lot of the traditions and elements of the party symbolize her transition and growth into womanhood.
For many, a quinceañera is seen simply as an excuse for a blow-out party with family and friends
The actual significance of the tradition is tied into both Catholic and pre-Hispanic culture. Many years ago, this celebration was rather more literal than symbolic; in pre-Hispanic times, 15 was considered the appropriate age to begin childbearing, and in the 20th century the right time to be married. Luckily, this no longer tends to be the case, but even so the quinceañera tradition has endured.
Nina’s celebration is proof that you don’t have to be fifteen to celebrate your Quinces. Get yourself a puffy dress and some chambelanes, because you’re never too old to celebrate womanhood.