Local group teaches Spanish language, culture through drama

By: Sarah Gilbert

South Charlotte Weekly Newspaper

May 19, 2011

http://www.thecharlotteweekly.com/news/2011/05/local-group-teaches-spanish-language-culture-through-drama/

Two south Charlotte moms have teamed up to launch a bilingual performing arts group that will tour Charlotte-area libraries this summer.

Ana Lucia Divins and Irania Macias Patterson established Criss Cross Mangosauce three years ago with a CD of bilingual music designed to help children learn English and Spanish words and songs.

“When the little ones start doing story time in preschool, they hear ‘criss cross applesauce’ and they know to sit down and get ready for stories,” Divins said.  “We introduced Spanish and Latin flavor, so we’re not apples, we’re mangos.”

Divins and Patterson are originally from Colombia and Venezuela, respectively, and they recognize the difficulties parents can have exposing their children to an array of languages and cultures.

“We have a shared vision and passion,” Divins said.  “We’re both mothers of bilingual children, and we’re both from South America.  Raising our children here has been a struggle culturally as we figure out how we pass our heritage down to our children.  We wanted to use the same techniques we use with our children to pass our language and culture to other children.”

The women were able to blend their backgrounds and talents to create Criss Cross Mangosauce.

“We are both artists,” Divins said.  “I’m a singer and a songwriter, and Irania’s background is in storytelling, drama and writing.  We put all of that together for our first CD.  Based on the great reception we got from children, parents and educators, we decided to expand on the concept.”

The group now brings Spanish language and culture to the public through performances for students and families.

“We do interactive, educational performances at libraries, schools and museums in North and South Carolina,” Divins said.  “It’s a combination between music, drama and storytelling.”

Divins and Patterson are in the midst of preparing for a series of summer performances that will take them across Mecklenburg, Rowan and Cabarrus counties.

“We’re getting ready to launch our summer tour,” Divins said.  “We’ve been invited to perform in about 15 places this summer.  The theme in the libraries for the summer is ‘One World, Many Stories,’ and our mission of connecting cultures is aligned with that theme.”

The performances allow parents to bring a new culture and language to their children without paying for a private class or tickets to a play.

“It’s a powerful message,” Divins said.  “It’s about music, theater and drama, and that has a power all its own to connect people.  It’s fun and it’s educational.  For those who don’t speak the language, it’s cool because they get a few words out of it.  For those who do, they get a sense of pride from hearing their language and seeing their culture.”

As the company continues to grow, Divins and Patterson are looking for new ways to spread the word through social media and developing products that will enable parents and teachers to lead Spanish lessons in their homes and classrooms.

“Where we would like to focus our energy is developing online tools and products that families and teachers can use on their own,” Divins said.  “We want to teach the teacher and provide parents with tools that incorporate the performing arts as a way to introduce new cultures and connect the community.”


To learn more about Criss Cross Mangosauce, visit the group’s website, www.ccmangosauce.com.

 

May 19, 2011 | Category: Press | Comments: none