Flor y Canto: the annual community and the artistic tradition of Casa Zapata return

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With the return to campus, community traditions like Flor y Canto (Flower and Song)—an annual performance and visual art showcase hosted by Casa Zapata’s Ethnic Theme Associates (ETA)—have been revived. Flor y Canto will take place during Family Weekend on Saturday, February 26 from 6-8 p.m. in the Asian American Activity Center Ballroom.

Students and community members can expect spoken word, dance, and singing performances, including music by Mariachi Cardinal. The visual art showcase will showcase community art and talent through a mix of photography, drawing and collage.

The annual Casa Zapata tradition was first known as “Zoot Suit Week” and was once a week-long series of events that celebrated the Zoot Suit era of the 1940s. ETA Kevin Calderon ’22 a writes in a comment to The Daily that Zoot Suit Week, a Stanford tradition that dates back to the 80s, was changed to Flor y Canto in the early 2010s to “include more storytelling outside of Mexican identity.”

A poster in the Casa Zapata Library for Zoo Costume Week of the 2007-08 academic year. (Photo: XIMENA SANCHEZ MARTINEZ/The Stanford Daily).

Casa Zapata Resident Fellow Elvira Prieto, Ed.M. ’96, who is also associate dean of students and director of El Centro Chicano y Latino, said Flor y Canto was first led by artist José Antonio Burciaga. José and his wife Ceclia Burciaga were resident fellows at Casa Zapata in the 1980s. Cecilia has held various positions at Stanford, including Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, and Assistant to the President and Vice President Business of Chicano. José also created some of the murals in the house, including the “Last Supper of Chicano Heroes” in Stern Dining.

The name “Flor y Canto” comes from a Nahuatl expression referring to poetry integrated with music and dance. Prieto pointed out that the Indigenous origins of the phrase are “an important thing for people to know.”

“The ‘flor’ refers to poetry and writing, the ‘canto’ is any type of musical expression, be it song, music or performance,” Prieto explained. “It was a gathering of artists and creatives to share their creativity with each other in a way that promoted ownership and respect for space – culture.”

After two years of uncertainty and loss amid the pandemic, Prieto views the event with hope and wants students and the community to share a space of wellness and healing.

“I want students and community members to feel uplifted and fill our hearts and minds with the light and joy that we really need right now,” Prieto said.

Casa Zapata resident assistant Issac Garcia ’22 experienced Flor y Canto before the pandemic and wonders how it will pan out in the current atmosphere of COVID-19 uncertainty.

“Everybody’s been out for so long and might be out of touch with what Zapata is or was,” Garcia said. “It might be a little weird considering everyone will be wearing masks and there will be new terrain to navigate.”

Garcia remembered performances by the students of Flor y Canto 2019. They remember the original music, a cover of a song by Selena, and a performance by Ballet Folklorico at the event. At the visual art showcase, they conjure up portraits, plein-air paintings, collages and photographs.

Despite the new circumstances, Garcia looks forward to Flor y Canto celebrating community members and giving students a break as we approach the home stretch of term: So having this event this weekend. To me, it’s like a shining star.

Casa Zapata frosh Crystal Jauregui ’25 is excited for her family to experience the community they are part of and to see their culture represented on campus.

“They’re going to see that I’m in a space that feels like home,” Jauregui said. “It’s going to be really nice to see that my family can relate to something here because it’s like, ‘we didn’t go to school; we didn’t go to college. But, for them, to see that part of their culture is here, and I’m here to represent our culture, it’s going to be really exciting.

Students from other dorms outside of Casa Zapata can join the community by becoming “fourth floor” residents. Casa Zapata has three floors, and the metaphorical “fourth floor” is intended to make students outside the dorm feel like they are part of the Zapata community. Jauregui hopes Flor y Canto will let students on the “fourth floor” know that there is a place for them on campus.

“We have a community here, and it’s a safe space. There’s so much love and care in this community that they can feel, especially if it’s people who don’t live in Zapata,” Jauregui said.

In an email announcing the event, Calderon wrote that Flor y Canto “is a tradition that celebrates and centers the arts in the home and the wider Latinx community as a form of cultural celebration and commitment to the political heart. of our house: Comunidad!”

Jauregui hopes attendees will leave the event grateful for the cultural representation within the community at Casa Zapata and Stanford.

“They can see there’s a community at Stanford that represents where we come from and all the talents that have been given to us,” Jauregui said.

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