More Than Meets the Eye

— Written By
2 young dancers in Latino Costume

Magetsi 4H club dancers at the Lee County mural dedication. Photo credit to Joann Thaxton.

The homemade costumes are striking as bright and bold colored fabrics swirl around these young and smiling faces on the stage. These young dancers are succeeding at a grand goal to share their culture and preserve their Latino traditions while they entertain audiences with this rich folkloric dancing.

While watching the dances I could not help but become curious about what they represent. They have named their group Magetsi. This term means ‘the firsts’, comes from the Nahuatl dialect, and is pronounced Majetzy. It is important to Magetsi 4-H Club volunteer, Myrna Rodriguez, to share this colorful part of her Latino culture to the Hispanic 4-H members and a new generation of American born Hispanic and Non-Hispanic young people through the art of dance, preserving these traditions throughout time.

Members of the Magetsi 4-H Club range in age from five to eighteen. These young people have been able to access the wonderful leadership training 4-H offers while celebrating their culture in dance. Among a long list of opportunities, 4-H offers scholarships and educational experiences on some of the North Carolina college campuses. Many members of this club will be the first in their families to graduate from college. Magetsi 4-H Club members have a high level of participation in the 4-H public speaking program and state 4-H events. They come to club meetings, often the entire family, each Friday at the Ingram Hall to socialize and practice their dances. Myrna says her parents’ involvement is the “key for success” for the wonderful 4-H family she has built. A visitor to her meetings will most
likely see a family reunion atmosphere with lots of laughing and dancing young people. Myrna has a technical degree in Folkloric Dance from the University of Chihuahua in Mexico, where she danced for nine years and has been teaching dance to young people here in America for twenty years.

In the last few months, her dancers have performed in Siler City, Raleigh, and recently here in Sanford at the downtown mural dedication celebration. If her group earns any money for a performance, competition, or fundraising, they use it to purchase fabric and supplies for their unique custom costumes, handmade by parent volunteers of the club members.

Most of us will not be able to travel to the Latin countries so Myrna and I would like to encourage you to look for this group and immerse yourself for a moment in the beautiful and vibrant dance rich with the culture of her heritage. You can see this award-winning group perform in September and October at the Lee Regional Fair, St. Stephen Catholic Church Festival, Fiesta in Winston Salem, Fiesta del
Pueblo in Raleigh, and at the NC Folk Festival at the State Fair. They will use the Lee Regional Fair Educational Booth Competition to share even more cultural information to Lee County residents.

Magetsi 4-H Club is one of six clubs currently meeting regularly in Lee County. For information about participation in these clubs, to begin a club of your own, or to learn about our many summer camp opportunities please call the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Lee County office at 919-775-5624.