Student Newspaper of Caney Creek High School

Creek Compass

Student Newspaper of Caney Creek High School

Creek Compass

Student Newspaper of Caney Creek High School

Creek Compass

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Panteras En Fuego becomes new addition to dance program

FUEGO.+Junior+Esperanza+Villanueva+and+Sophomore+Jacqueline+Arteaga+dance+as+pairs+to+their+routine+during+the+slumber+pep+rally+on+Friday%2C+Jan.+3%2C+2024.+It+was+the+first+time+the+Pantera+en+Fuego+dance+team+performed+at+a+pep+rally.+%E2%80%9CI+felt+nervous+and+anxious+about+it+at+first+but+then+I+started+to+notice+that+people+were+happy+so+I+felt+awesome%2C%E2%80%9D+Villanueva+said%2C+%E2%80%9CI+would+definitely+do+it+again+if+I+could.%E2%80%9D
Photo: Ezri Luna
FUEGO. Junior Esperanza Villanueva and Sophomore Jacqueline Arteaga dance as pairs to their routine during the slumber pep rally on Friday, Jan. 3, 2024. It was the first time the Pantera en Fuego dance team performed at a pep rally. “I felt nervous and anxious about it at first but then I started to notice that people were happy so I felt awesome,” Villanueva said, “I would definitely do it again if I could.”

The Panteras En Fuego dance team is a new addition to the dance program this year. Special topics is the dance class that offers a range of Latin dance styles from bachata to folklorico.

“I feel like the class is super fun because she (dance teacher Daniela Archila) breaks the dances down for us, understanding the footsteps and getting the right technique, to use it whenever we can in the real world,” junior Alysah Guzman said. 

Dance teacher Heidi Kloes proposed the idea to her dance and drill students last school year. The idea came from the Panther Art spring showcase. In the past about seven years, Kloes’ dance classes have partnered with the orchestra program to do a joint concert. 

Last year, the dancers performed alongside the mariachi group and Kloes saw it as the perfect opportunity.

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“I just thought this was the time to start an actual class for Hispanic Heritage dances specifically,” Kloes said. “We’ve been working on it over and over for the last several years, but we finally have enough interest on campus that we could get an actual class going for it.”

The girls have also learned to dance merengue, Spanish ballroom, salsa, samba and more as well as having the choice to dance in pairs or individually and together as a group. 

“Honestly I like all of them (dancing styles),” junior Julissa Paredes said. “We’re starting to learn more things like cha cha and rumba and as we learn that I’m liking it as well, I just can’t choose.”

However, the class isn’t just dancing. According to sophomore Soraya Ortega, the girls have to sit down and listen to Archila and Kloes talk to them about the origin of the different dance styles. Occasionally the girls will take notes on power points or watch videos on the dance style they are focusing on. 

Archila herself used to dance traditional folklorico, meanwhile Kloes has more experience in ballroom dancing. Together, they’ve structured the class so that they cover both folklorico and ballroom primarily and then work in the rest of the dance styles throughout the year.

“We had a meeting with the director of Dancing Through Life (charitable organization) and kind of figured out how many hours a week we would need to spend on ballroom and be ready for a competition,” Kloes said. “Then we figured out how many hours we wanted to spend on folklorico so they (students) got a balanced curriculum, and so that’s kind of how we started the year.” 

Their first performance was in front of elementary school kids from Ben Milam and San Jacinto Elementary school, back in December. Here at the schools, they danced a group folklorico choreography and a ballroom style dance.

“We got to perform it for them so we could get a better understanding of an audience and get used to it,” Guzman said. 

Before the semester ended, the En Fuego team competed for the first time at the Fred Astaire Holiday Star Ball, winning first place in its group dances; Latin social dance and Jarabe Tapatio.

A couple of the girls also placed in their divisions like sophomore Jacky Arteaga, who placed third with her partner junior Reyna Villanueva.

“It was an exciting new experience,” Arteaga said. “You get to meet new people here in the class and then you go to competition and get to meet even more new people.” 

Senior Linda Aguirre remembers how she felt competing at the Holiday Star Ball. 

“I was just scared because it was my first time, but I was excited too, you know – there were a lot of people and we had a lot of fun,” Aguirre said. 

Paredes said that her favorite thing about En Fuego is learning more about her culture. 

“I love how I get to learn about my own culture,” Paredes said. “I feel like it brings people more to my culture.” 

“It’s not just about the dancing,” Guzman said. “It’s more about why the dancing was made and who it was made by.” 

The girls say that the importance of the addition of En Fuego is to make the Hispanic student-body feel seen. 

“I think the school will have a better understanding culture-wise,” Guzman said. “If they’re able to go out there and see the type of dances we do, then maybe they’d be interested in joining the class. It would make them (students) feel a lot better to see the style of dance.”

“It’s just a way for them to connect to their roots that they may not be as connected to,” Archilla said. “It’s also a way for them to get exposed to new things and learn more about the culture.”

Archilla and Kloes think that the class also helps the students learn how to differentiate the social and competitive aspect of dance. 

“Even from my own experience, I’ve done the social part of it like when you dance at parties, fifteens and stuff, but not really the trained and competitive part that she (Kloes) has introduced to them.

En Fuego’s upcoming competition, Fred Astaire’s Texas Grand Championship will be on March 9, 2024. The team will be performing its Latin social dance tomorrow during the pep rally, Feb. 2, 2024.

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About the Contributors
Natalia Molina, Executive Editor
Natalia Molina is the Executive Editor on Student Media, she oversees and manages all publications. This is her second year on staff! Molina is president of NEHS, an AP Ambassador and is involved in UIL Journalism, NHS and NTHS. She is also a part of the all-state journalism staff, two time region qualifier in feature writing and district champion in news writing.  Nat loves reading mystery and watching true crime as well as collecting stuffed animals. SHE ALSO LOVES SNOOPY. (and marg and liz.)
Ezri Luna, Photography Editor
Ezri Luna is a photographer and one of the three photo editors at Caney Creek High School. He is in charge of assigning camera equipment along with beats to each of the photographers. He has been on staff for two years, he is also in band as a trombone and is one of the trombone section leaders. He's never accomplished anything in life :(. He's from Deerwood and always says "anyone can rise up".
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