What are you...? with Rafael Espitia, Hispanic dancer
BY NOUR HABIB World Scene Writer
Thursday, November 01, 2012
11/01/12 at 3:46 AM
Rafael Espitia, 32, got into Hispanic folkloric dancing in his late teen years. But he didn't pick it up while living in his native Mexico City.
Instead, he joined a dance group after moving to Tulsa. And it has become his passion.
Espitia, who is an assistant district manager at Yale Cleaners, spends all his free time dancing. He is now the director of Tierra Mestiza, a Mexican folkloric dance group that formed in Tulsa 11 years ago.
Tierra Mestiza is composed of about 30 performers, a mix of kids and adults. The group will perform at the Day of the Dead Arts Festival Thursday, which will be at Living Arts of Tulsa, 307 E. Brady St., from 5 to 10:30 p.m.
Espitia spoke to us about the group's upcoming performance, his love of Tulsa and his current project.
What are you ...
... going to do at the Day of the Dead Festival?
We will have five different dances from five states of Mexico. They're all different, and they all have different costumes, different music and different meaning.
Every dance in Mexico means something, from the costumes, the steps, the music, the choreography.
... working on with Tierra Mestiza right now in terms of projects?
We don't just do dance and music and folklore from Mexico. We do them from other countries from South America. Right now we're working on a dance from Colombia. We're working on the costumes and the music and the choreography. ... This dance represents a woman's fertility.
... loving about Tulsa?
It's a small city with everything in it. Great restaurants, big stores, nice community ... And it's not an overwhelmed city. I love Chicago. I love New York City. I love Dallas, where I go every year, but Tulsa is well-distributed and well-designed, and it's not overwhelmed. It's what I like about it. Being from Mexico City, one of biggest cities in the world, it can be overwhelming. Too many people everywhere. It's not for me.
... hoping to see happen in Tulsa in the next year?
I think Tulsa is growing in a very good way. The BOK Center, the Mayo Hotel ... those are huge projects. It's wonderful to see these things in Tulsa, and I suspect these things will never stop.
... reading currently?
I've been reading about a wonderful former Mexican president. His name is Vicente Fox. He visited Tulsa like four years ago. I bought his book when he was here at ORU, and I just started it like three weeks ago.
... most often doing when you're not performing?
Besides work, the thing I invest my time in the most is folkloric dance because of the passion I have for it. ... To improve our dances, every year I take a three-week class in Dallas with one of the biggest Mexican companies in folkloric dance (Ballet Folklorico de Mexico Aztlan). ... I accumulate all my vacation time, and that's what I use for my vacation.
Nour Habib 918-581-8369
Rafael Espitia works as an assistant manager at Yale Cleaners when he isn't dancing. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World