Dancing Elotes Comes to the Farmers Market

By John Lynds

Each Wednesday at the East Boston Farmers Market on Lewis Mall, featuring the fresh fruit and vegetable dealers, there is a special ongoing celebration that is a big hit with the crowd.

Brought to this year’s Farmers Market by the Veronica Robles Cultural Center is the ‘Dancing Elotes’ project.

“This project will include a bike-cart selling elotes, traditionally prepared corn served on the street in Mexico, as a literal and conceptual vehicle for cross-cultural culinary, dance and sculptural experiences at the East Boston Farmers Market,” said Robles.

Each week, shoppers at the Farmers Market are invited to help decorate the sculpture that is a symbol of peace and unity in the community.

“Dancing Elotes will culminate in a large-scale sculpture of traditional Latino dancers made out of the Elote husks and cobs, and dancers performing “La Danza del Permiso” (to request permission from mother earth to work the soil) around an altar at the base of sculptures to celebrate the Day of the Dead in November, and to honor the lives of the young victims of street violence,” explained Robles.

With funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ Creative City Program and from The Barr Foundation, Robles said she was able to provide summer jobs for Eastie youth through the project. The youth a responsible for making, preparing and selling the corn at each Farmers Market.

“As usual we started our week picking up, husking and prepping the elotes,” said Robles at last week’s Farmers Market. The youth workers then rode the traditional elotes bike into the Farmers Market and there was an immediate line that stretched to Sumner Street. The youth worked hard dressing the corn with special sauces and seasoning and pushed out ear after ear of corn.

Robles then put out a small drum and tambourine that would be used to perform the “La Danza del Permiso” dance.

“But before that could take place, we had our opening act – improvisation by young kids from East Boston,” said Robles. “Children gathered around the instruments taking turns to intuitively play the rhythms inside them. Their music echoed through the entrance of the East Boston Farmers Market.”

Later the children’s attention transitioned from music to books as special guests Rep. Adrian Madaro, Miss El Salvador Massachusetts Michelle Romero and Karla Trigueros, founder and director of Miss El Salvador Massachusetts read a variety of books to the children as they gathered in their character-themed chairs.

“After giving their time to Dancing Elotes project, our reading guests dove into the full experience of what the project is about,” said Robles. “State Representative Madaro sunk his teeth into his first Elote Loco and said ‘We’ve been eating corn the wrong way all these years’.”

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