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University sponsors Spanish flamenco performances, cultural events week

Through a week of public performances, a lecture, a dance workshop and a cooking class, flamenco dancer Jaime El Estampio and guitarist Antonio Herrera promise to bring “the magic of Spain” to South Bend.

The week of events celebrating Spanish culture, which takes place Monday, Nov. 7 through Friday, Nov. 11, was organized by Notre Dame teaching professors of Spanish Tatiana Botero and Elena Mangione-Lora.

Mangione-Lora said the duo’s goal is to make interesting cultural events accessible to their students and to the community.

“We want to connect the events to big, relevant questions,” she said.

The week will kick off Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. with a public flamenco performance by El Estampio and Herrera at La Casa de Amistad, 3423 S. Michigan St., South Bend. The free-but-ticketed event is open to all.

“It’s going to be amazing, but the most amazing thing of all is the generosity of these two musicians. They were both engaged in community building and healing through their flamenco master Torombo and his school in Seville, Spain,” Mangione-Lora said. “They visited prisons, the elderly and especially centers for the recovery of drug addiction and promote healing through synchronicity, connectedness and being in tune with community.”

Mangione-Lora said she discovered El Estampio online during the pandemic when she was trying to learn how to sing flamenco “cantes,or songs After speaking with the dancer a few times, she said she realized his talent for engaging students.

Botero said, for two semesters, she and Mangione-Lora invited El Estampio to give virtual lectures to Notre Dame students. Students “fell in love with his charisma, energy and natural teaching abilities,” she said.

“The students were very enthusiastic about the visit in their reflections and evaluations. We even got word that there was an uptick in applications to the Toledo, Spain, study abroad program,” Mangione-Lora said.

The next year, in 2021, Botero and Mangione-Lora brought El Estampio to the South Bend Civic Theatre and Holy Cross Elementary School to perform for the community and local students.

Botero said this year will include more local school visits and greater involvement from Notre Dame students.

“We know the impact live performances and access to the artist have on the students,” Botero said. “We have worked hard to make the events … accessible to all. We wanted to make sure that buying a ticket was not an obstacle to come and enjoy the history and movement that forged flamenco.”

Notre Dame International and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, both sponsors of the week’s events, also have a goal for the events: “To open hearts and minds toward Europe … to really see the margins and to recognize and celebrate the international locally,” Mangione-Lora said.

“Flamenco does all of these things,” she continued. “It is one of the most recognizable art forms to come from Spain, but it was born of the margins of the persecuted Roma people originally from the east with contributions from Spaniards, Africans from the south and instruments from the South American continent like the cajón from Peru.”

A week celebrating art and emotion

Following Monday’s performance, Tuesday afternoon will feature a public lecture on the Notre Dame campus in 305 Bond Hall.

The lecture by associate professor of anthropology Alex Chavez, titled “Verses and Flows: Migrant Lives and the Sounds of Crossing,” will take place from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday night, students will have the opportunity to get off-campus and attend a flamenco dance workshop put on by South Bend Latin Dance.

The workshop takes place from 6 to 7 p.m. at Ironhand Wine Bar, and attendees can stay afterward to put their newly-acquired dance skills into practice. The workshop is $15.

Thursday night will feature another free-but-ticketed performance by El Estampio and Herrera, this time on campus in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s Leighton Concert Hall at 7 p.m.

Tickets can be reserved online at dpactickets.nd.edu.

Finally, Friday will conclude the week with two fun, interactive events. At 5 p.m., Carolynn Hines-Johnson of Spanish Rose Dance Studio, a small flamenco studio in South Bend, will host a flamenco workshop.

“It’s really special … because there is little access to authentic flamenco close to South Bend, even in Chicago,” Mangione-Lora said. “Last year, we had people come from Goshen, Chicago and Indianapolis.”

At 7 p.m., the Spanish Club will hold a cooking class. To sign up or get more information on the cooking class, email ND.spanish1@nd.edu.

Mangione-Lora said she encourages students to get dressed up and enjoy the week’s events with friends.

“The week is a celebration of art as movement, as a means of expression, as [a] channel for pain, anxiety, loneliness, as a refuge from persecution, as a proud manifestation of identity,” she said. “It is an invitation to share in the history, beauty, pain, movement and joy that is flamenco and an invitation to community as we experience it together.”

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El Campito to host third annual Taco Battle fundraiser

El Campito Child Development Center, a bilingual early childcare center in South Bend, will host its third annual Taco Battle fundraiser featuring local vendors on Tuesday.

The event will be hosted at two United Federal Credit Union locations on Ireland Rd. South Bend and Main St. in Mishawaka from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. In the evening, the event will be hosted at El Campito in South Bend from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A $10 ticket gets tacos from local vendors and the ability for attendees to vote for their favorite. The flyer for the event states that the revenue will work to “promote the educational, social and economic success of culturally diverse children and their families at El Campito.”

Two El Campito students pose with plush tacos. / Courtesy of Aleyna Mitchell.

Aleyna Mitchell, director of development and community outreach for El Campito, noted that the fundraiser will include much more than just tacos.

“The night event is great because it’s for the whole family. It’s not just … you come in, you eat, you leave … it’s a party,” Mitchell said.

The event is El Campito’s largest annual fundraiser and helps the center support its families.

“We serve [primarily] Latino families,” Mitchell said. “It’s in our nature as a bilingual center … Low-income, sometimes non-English speaking families are our main base that we provide for.”

El Campito’s curriculum is taught in both Spanish and English, and it is “the only licensed, NAEYC accredited bilingual child development center in Northern Indiana,” according to their website.

Shelley Pulaski, board member and treasurer for El Campito, stressed the financial importance of the fundraiser for the organization.

“What’s so crucial about this fundraiser for El Campito is it gives us unrestricted funds that we can spend on our institution,” Pulaski said.

The money raised in the Taco Battle will be put towards a new HVAC unit as well as other technological improvements for the almost 100-year-old facility.

“This is where the Taco Battle is so important,” Pulaski stated. “It gives us the ability to improve the [building] quality for the children … to [install] air purifiers, better Wi-Fi, all the electronics that are needed in this day and age.”

Tatiana Botero, teaching professor of Spanish at Notre Dame and El Campito board member, teaches a community-engaged learning class that gives her students the opportunity to document the immigration stories of many El Campito families.

For students who are not involved in Botero’s project, the Taco Battle gives the tri-campus the opportunity to become involved in and gain a greater awareness of the South Bend community. Students will also be able to learn more about possible volunteer opportunities with El Campito.

“I always want to encourage my students to try to break the walls of a classroom and be able to experience what’s happening in the classroom outside, not just on the campus of Notre Dame but also in the greater South Bend area,” Botero said.

Contact Caroline Mereness at cmeneres@nd.edu.