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Dance Helps Keep Culture Alive

Queens -

Ecuadorians are New York’s fourth largest Latino group, but as a byproduct of this immigrant influx, many Ecuadorian Americans feel that their traditions are in danger. In their adopted land, they fear future generations will lose out on the customs so highly valued by their ancestors.

Ayazamana Cultural Center hopes to change that. Jose Rivera, an Ecuadorian native who immigrated to Queens in 1990, founded the center and teaches traditional folkloric dances native to different regions of Ecuador, such as Saraguro, in the Province of Loja; Cayambe in Pichincha; Natabuela in Imbabura and Pujili in Cotopaxi. He’s joined by a volunteer staff, who put aside their day jobs as construction workers and cooks, to help sew costumes and make props for performances.

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