Passion Latina gives back

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Passion Latina’s twins Idar and Jessica Ramos come to life in a Día De Los Muertos Folklóricio dance event.

Natasha Molina

Mireya Placencia, an EOPs English tutor, grew up to be different from other girls, she experienced music differently than others amongst her.

“I wanted to know the background, the history to every dance and as to why something was done for a certain particular genre, so I asked questions did my research and taught myself.”

As Placencia grew older she realized that other girls around her shared a similar interest that helped spark the idea to start her own Latin dance group.

Passion Latina started off small as an after school group with only a couple of kids taking part in it, that would perform for school or holiday events like Cinco De Mayo.

As time passed Passion Latina started to grow as did Placencia’s responsibilities with the group, “During high school, I became the sole leader of the group and was in charge of organizing upcoming events.”

Upon the growth of the group Placencia was positive about continuing her passion for dance and took it upon herself to have Passion Latina become a non-profit organization.

With the help of her church, Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, she was able to have the necessary resources available for her and the dancers.

The dance lessons began to be held at the church, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in city of Compton.

The classes are broken up into three; elementary, middle and high school where kids are taught all types of Latin dances including; Samba from Brazil, Cumbia from Colombia, Punta from Honduras or Belize.

Being a non-profit organization Passion Latina participates in many fundraising events in order to raise money for uniforms, costumes, sound systems, and transportation.

“We’ll do car washes, sell chocolates, raffles or small dance recitals where we’ll charge a small fee to help raise as much as we can,” Placencia stressed the importance of fundraising.

One of Latina’s biggest events is a yearly parade that is set in the cities, Compton, South Gate, Huntington Park, Rolling Hills, Downey, Hawaiian Gardens and East Los Angeles.

In the event 60 girls perform; these young girls dedicate months and months of practice.

Although Passion Latina performs for many special events for the cities like, Compton or Carson, these young dancers also like to give back to the community.

“After the parade in South Gate there is a Latino community gathering that holds a toy drive and every year we bring toys for that drive as well as in Compton.”

Latina’s also give back at the Compton Airport and at the Museum of Rancho Dominguez by performing there for free when asked.

“One of my students came up with the idea of filling some of our old useable purses and filling them with feminine products to give out to homeless women in Compton. It was a satisfying experience to be able to give back to people in need no matter how small it was,” Placencia proudly expressed.

Aside from teaching young girls how to dance this organization gives back and impacts the group from within in a big way.

The girls have become more a family always helping each other out not just with dance, but with whatever life throws at them.

“Since we are based in Compton, I feel like this group not only has helped keep girls off of the streets, but helps them physically. There are girls who have been diagnosed as obese, so it’s a fun way to help them exercise.”

Placencia is always pleasantly surprised to see how much this groups helps young girls one out of their shells to blossom into social butterflies which boosts up their self esteems tremendously.

Amy Mendoza, a 20 year old dancer, has been a member of Passion Latina since it began, she was thrilled to learn about many different cultures through music describing it as experiencing it a different world.

Through the club Mendoza has had the opportunity to travel and experience different environments by meeting new people.

“We are a family at Passion Latina! When one of us is going through a rough patch in our life we are there to console and support each other. Passion Latina is second home to me and many of us. There is comfort and unity. Our dance group is genuinely one of a kind and so welcoming.” Mendoza concluded.

Check out Passion Latina’s instagram for information on how to join this club!