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Opportunity Funds Help Sustain Lao Traditional Dancing

The Humboldt County Lao Dancers received a Grassroots Grant from the James & Geneva Nealis Fund in 2017 to continue teaching children traditional Lao dancing.

Humboldt County’s Lao community has decreased in recent decades, as the children and grandchildren of refugees who moved here in the 1970s leave to pursue economic opportunity and cultural enclaves in larger cities, but those who remain have found a way to pass down traditions to the next generation: Dance.

The Humboldt County Lao Dancers received a Grassroots Grant from the James & Geneva Nealis Fund in 2017 to continue teaching children traditional Lao dancing. The dances reflect the history of Laos, and often occur in the context of important cultural celebrations such as the Lao New Year. The grant money was partially used on acquiring proper costumes, which are made of silk and sewn with gold and silver thread.

Auntha Say, mother of an 8-year-old dancer and co-founder of the dance group, says that putting the outfit and performing is transformative for the young girls.

“She loves it,” Say says of her daughter, adding that more children are now interested in learning the Laotion language and traditional instruments. “They know it’s special.”

Grassroots Grants are one way we put Opportunity Funding to good use. To learn more about Opportunity Funds, click here



 



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