Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Chicano Studies

Second Department

Latin American Studies

Reader 1

Gilda Ochoa

Reader 2

Martha Gonzalez

Reader 3

Cindy Forster

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2017 Maya Salas


In the context of Chicanx experiences in the United States, where varying generations of Chicanxs experience bicultural realities, this study shows how embodied knowledge performed through the body’s movements in folklórico dance by Chicanx youth from multiple generations, acts as a mechanism for reconnecting youth to cultural ties, reevaluating educational practices, and emplacing within youth, the ability to foster the confidence to express and create imagined futures. Data collection incorporated a series of interviews with eight Chicanx youth and adults who have either taught or danced folklórico in the Phoenix, Los Angeles, or Coachella Valley areas. Interview participants revealed a strong sense of cultural orgullo that acts as a bedrock for their cultural identity affirmation and reclamation. This orgullo and other cultural knowledges such as familismo and collective consciousness were emphasized through pedagogies of embodiment. Dancers described learning these cultural knowledges not just through the embodiment of physical dance steps but through the embodiment of social customs honored by their folklórico communities. Much of these social customs centered around fostering and maintaining relationships of genuine, holistic caring. These relationships were foundational for personal, mental, and emotional growth of dancers. Through these relationships, individual identities found the support to thrive within collective communities. Given the influx of educational pedagogies that attempt to depersonalize, depoliticize, and de-emotionalize the education through the implementation of tracking systems, standardized tests, and culturally inaccessible curriculums, these stories suggest alternate forms of learning that may account for students’ entire well-being. While this project is very much about reclaiming historical pasts, it is also about re-envisioning educational possibilities, discovering inner potentials and building collective communities that recognize and rejoice in those potentials. Through this study, a deeper understanding of the functions of movement and dance will strengthen platforms that push arts education and ethnic studies to greater educationalist agendas.