Aztec dancers highlight museum's 'Day of the Dead'

Courtesy Nevada State Museum

Courtesy Nevada State Museum

The halls of the Nevada State Museum rang out with the sounds of music, dance and laughter Saturday as hundreds of people attended the seventh annual el Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

"All of this is a community-based program for understanding other cultures and a day of welcome and peace which is extended to the community," said Deborah Stevenson, the museum's curator of education

She explained that Day of the Dead is a multicultural celebration of life through death and a wholesome family holiday where participants learn to deal with death in a healthy way by celebrating the lives of loved ones who have passed away.

Children were able to decorate sugar skulls and make fancy paper designs and paper flowers Saturday along with enjoying entertainment.

"We've been building these relationships for seven years, and it takes time, but we have people here today from elementary school to Western Nevada College and from Latino groups in the community," Stevenson said.

But one of the highlights of the day was the performance of Grupo Tlaloc Aztec Dancers out of Yerington with their tall colorfully feathered headdresses, drum and fancy attire.

Introducing each of the dances for one of the hour-long performances was Jessie Ortiz, who came from Sacramento for the day.

"Think of someone who is gone, and this celebration is for them," Ortiz said. "All cultures come together for this, and we celebrate together - whether you're good-looking or not so good-looking. So think of them while we're doing the wind dance, sun dance, fire dance, love dance and the dance for life."

Perla Landa attended the Day of the Dead celebration with nine of her friends to perform a folklorico dance. She had just decorated some sugar skulls and said she attended because she "likes learning about other dancers."

Another guest, Michael Murrietta attended with a group of students from WNC.

"I just like to see different cultures come together," he said.

Special exhibits, called ofrendas, were set up with a display of memorabilia from a departed loved one. They includes photos of the person, samples of their favorite foods, symbols of activities they loved and bright yellow flowers. A typical bread, called pan de muerto, also was displayed during the festival.

Stevenson said the ofrendas will be left up this year through Nov. 18 to make the celebration a month-long event, and so that attendees of the Nevada Museum Association's Conference for Northern Nevada Museums can enjoy a bit of the Day of the Dead celebration.


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