Organization mixes dance with education

October 15, 2009 (CHICAGO) Dance is an important part of the learning process at El Hogar Del Nino.

The El Hogar Del Nino folkloric Mexican dancers range in age from three- to five- years-old. Students take the dance class at the day care center for two years and practice an average of three times a week. The dancers also perform at various events throughout Chicago.

"Parents have sought El Hogar out because they want their kids to be enrolled so they can participate in the dancing," said Denise Dell Isola, interim executive director.

A favorite dance is the popular Mexican hat dance. For fifteen years, Rosa Ortiz has been teaching the little charros and rancheras the intricate steps, movements and gestures needed to perform the Mexican dances.

"It is very hard because the children are little, four and three years old," Ortiz said.

The children wear authentic Mexican costumes purchased in Mexico for performances. They cost around $250, and the ranchera costumes represent different parts of Mexico. Dell Isola says dancing gives the children confidence.

"It gives them something to focus on and excel in," she said.

For close to 30 years, El Hogar has been a staple in this community providing an early childhood education. Over 300 children are enrolled in El Hogar preschool, day care and after school programs

"Our community members have a safe place to leave their children when they go out and perform their jobs," Rosa Garcia said.

There are 20 El Hogar dancers. They have a number of upcoming events they must rehearse daily for. The dancers appear to never tire of practicing and perfecting their dancing.

At El Hogar, parents also receive early childhood parenting and development education.

They have programs and counseling for the entire family.

El Hogar is currently enrolling children in all of the programs.

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