What began as a community dance studio in 1995 has evolved into a hub for various cultural activities.
The Mexico Vivo Cultural Arts Center, which moved to the Boulevard Mall, 3528 S. Maryland Parkway, in April, offers lessons in various areas for all ages. From ballet folklórico to musical theater, karate to piano lessons, children and adults learn from volunteer instructors, many of whom were students.
Ixela Gutierrez, executive director, said the larger space has provided opportunities for more classes and students.
"Since we moved to the mall, we’ve had about 80 more students," Gutierrez said. "We’ve opened new programs, such as karate, piano, modeling and art exhibitions. It’s more convenient for families, and we have more space for performances."
Gutierrez said that in the past, Mexico Vivo rented space in the Arts District and rehearsed at the Rafael Rivera Community Center, 2900 Stewart Ave. As the dance company grew, storage for costumes and space for rehearsals became too small. Gutierrez said dancers would often use empty parking lots for rehearsals and faced challenges in trying to find performance spaces that would accommodate at least 300 people.
The new space, however, solves some of these issues and offers more class options for students. Gutierrez said one recurring program, which is free classes for diabetics and their families, has seen an increase in participants since moving to the Boulevard Mall. The classes, slated for 6 p.m. every second and fourth Thursday of the month, feature dance instructors and health experts who provide information on diabetes and nutrition.
"The free classes for diabetics is one of the programs I love," Gutierrez said. "We’ve been doing them for years in conjunction with the Southern Nevada Health District, and (participants) get exercise and a free lesson on nutrition."
Other than classes for diabetic patients, Gutierrez said Mexico Vivo’s other programs are flexible in terms of time. She said dance students typically arrive between 5 and 6 p.m. weekdays and stay as late at 9 p.m. for practice. Times for modeling, karate and piano lessons vary depending on the schedules of the students in these programs. Dance groups often perform at various festivals during weekends throughout the year.
Priscila Hermosillo, 17, is one of Mexico Vivo’s dance students. Hermosillo said she chose to dance with Mexico Vivo because of the atmosphere and camaraderie.
"We have the opportunity to perform in different locations with Mexico Vivo, and we learn new steps from different cultures," Hermosillo said. "We’re like a big family. We love and respect one another, and we welcome anybody."
Gutierrez said the family dynamic is what keeps the nonprofit cultural arts center running. Parents of the younger students often pitch in with making and repairing costumes, renovating the space and volunteering in other aspects. Depending on the student’s age, Gutierrez charges from $18 to $60 per month for unlimited classes. She aims to run Mexico Vivo similar to a community center in which participants are able to use the space as often as they wish. Gutierrez said instructors usually teach on a voluntary basis or ask for little pay in return.
It’s aspects such as these, Gutierrez said, that make her grateful for the opportunity to expand Mexico Vivo and work with more students.
"We’re so proud of our students," Gutierrez said. "We have students who are truly leaders in our community. We’ve been doing all of these programs with very little money, but a lot of heart, and we’re so happy that the Boulevard Mall gave us this opportunity."
For more information on the Mexico Vivo Cultural Arts Center, call 339-0948.
Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Lisa Carter at email@example.com or 383-4686.