Nearly 6,000 Orange County fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders experienced a little bit of Mexican culture Wednesday as they gazed at the dancers from Ballet Folklorico de Mexico twirling, stomping and clapping to traditional Mexican folk tunes.
The students filled the Performing Arts Center to watch the performances of ritual dances, including the "Deer Dance," "Tamira de Tixla" and the most recognizable "Mexican Hat Dance."
The event was sponsored by the Orange County Philharmonic Society to provide musical and cultural education to the schools, many of which have had their arts and music programs slashed or deleted from the curriculum.
"We're trying to broaden outreach by providing a type of dance which is in line with Orange County's diversity," said Rebecca Menes, Philharmonic Society spokeswoman.
The students came from school districts in Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Placentia, Huntington Beach, Westminster, Anaheim, Irvine and South County to attend the lively performance, Menes said.
"We wanted the students to learn about Mexican culture and performing arts as more than just entertainment," she said. "It's a celebration of Latin American history and folklore. It's especially good for the Latino children to be able to see part of their own culture on stage."