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NDCAC to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos with community event

| Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture (NDCAC) will be hosting a celebratory event for El Dia de Los Muertos on Thursday starting at 5:30 p.m. in the NDCAC building in South Bend.

El Dia de Los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday held to remember and honor deceased loved ones, taking place during the first few days of November.

“The celebration is a great way to celebrate being part of the larger South Bend community and for many to learn about Dia de los Muertos,” Alex Schaufele, the art coordinator for the Crossroads Gallery at the NDCAC, said.

Schaufele said the celebration will include performances by campus groups, including Ballet Folklorico Azul y Oro and Mariachi ND. Taqueria Chicago also will provide free food for those with a student ID, and traditional Pan de Muerto and hot chocolate will be available for all attendees.

The event will also feature an exhibition of altars created by 20 community members or groups to honor the lives of the deceased. Schaufele said the NDCAC wanted the altars at the celebration because of the sense of community and celebration of life they represent.

“In years past there was just one altar and it was built by an invited artist,” Schaufele said. “Through bringing multiple groups and individuals together the exhibition has helped to create a new relationship within the community. Instead of one person being honored, we have twenty different ofrendas this year.”

Schaufele said a bus doing a continuous, round-trip shuttle service will transport students from McKenna Hall to the NDCAC for free starting 15 minutes before the celebration.

Idalia Maldonado, the events coordinator for the Institute for Latino Studies, which is co-hosting the event, said El Dia de los Muertos shows deceased family and friends that they’re still remembered and recognized.

“Unlike Halloween, the actual tradition itself is really more of a recognition that these people at one time lived,” Maldonado said. “It’s not a celebration that they’re gone and that they’re dead but it’s in remembrance that they once lived here and they’re not forgotten.”

Maldonado said in accordance with the holiday, student altars displayed at McKenna Hall were dedicated on Wednesday to those that died in Puerto Rico and Mexico City from recent natural disasters while another more traditional altar was dedicated to loved ones who have passed.

“This will be the fifth year that a group of students have come in and built their own altars,” Maldonado said. “They dedicate it from year to year to different entities or different groups and this year they’re going traditional.”

Junior Leslie Vergara, president of Notre Dame’s Ballet Folklorico Azul y Oro group, said the group will be dancing to “La Bruja,” a solemn piece from Veracruz, Mexico, and “El Buey” from Nayarit, Mexico, an upbeat song intended to evoke the happiness of the remembrance that takes place on El Dia de Los Muertos.

“The wardrobe for this region calls for vibrant colors,” Vergara said. “This adaptation, though not traditonal, helps convey the message that this is a celebration.”

Vergara said performing for Dia de los Muertos is a reminder of the traditions within her family.

“When I lived in Mexico, I recall going to my great-grandmother’s house and seeing the altar she had put together for our loved ones that had passed away,” Vergara said. “Now that I live in the U.S., this is my way of keeping my culture alive and remembering all my loved ones that have passed away.”

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About Kelli Smith

Kelli Smith is a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she currently resides in Badin Hall and is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Film, Theater and Television with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy.

Contact Kelli