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Mission District’s Bolivian dance group celebrates 15 years

By Jenny Manrique
Mission Local

An award-winning Bolivian folkloric dance group — started in a local high school and nurtured in any rehearsal space it could find — celebrates its 15th anniversary this weekend with four programs at the ODC theater on 17th and Shotwell.

“We always figured out somewhere to practice,” said Isidro Fajardo, 24, the artistic director and choreographer of Bolivia Corazón de América.

And when they had no audience, “we learned to just stand in front of each other and feel the music.”

“One of my core beliefs in life is that kids should be close to art, and dance is one of the most complete arts that exists,” said founder Susana Salinas. A dancer in her native Bolivia, Salinas started the group in 2000 when she was teaching at Leadership High School in the Excelsior.

“My other belief is that kids should grow up close to their roots, in this case, Bolivian dance,” said Salinas, the mother of two. Her sons, Alvaro and Alberto, were born in Bolivia and California, respectively. “That way they grow up with pride, which helps them to reach more goals in life.”

Alvaro Salinas, who helped his mother in the early years, will be flying in from La Paz to dance with the company this weekend.

The dancers are all children of Latin American immigrants…

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