Category Archives: interview
I love art in general, but the diverse art of Latin America is my favorite to explore. It was during one of these internet explorations that I stumbled upon the traditional Argentinian art called “fileteado” and one of its most respected modern day masters, artist Alfredo Genovese.
If the style looks familiar to you, it’s possible that you recognize it as the type of art historically found on the sides of wagons, particularly those used by circuses. The art seems to have originated in Italy and was brought to Argentina by immigrants where it has become its own unique style known as the “Fileteado Porteño” of Buenos Aires.
When Alfredo Genovese studied art, he was surprised to find that Fileteado was not part of the school’s curriculum, and so he went to study under masters of the art, traveling around the world, before returning to Buenos Aires where he makes a living as an artist and a teacher of Fileteado.
I emailed Mr. Genovese to ask if I could feature him and some of his art here, and to my surprise, he even agreed to an interview (below!)
Interview with Alfredo Genovese, Fileteador
Latinaish: For those who aren’t from Argentina and don’t know what “Fileteado” is, can you explain?
Alfredo Genovese: Fileteado is a popular decorative art form originating from the horse cart factories of Buenos Aires in the early 20th Century. It is a hand-painted, brightly coloured style, which has a real life of its own. Vibrant contrasting colours, with highlights and lowlights, often incorporating symbols such as the acanthus leaf, dragons, flowers, birds, cornucopias, ribbons and scrolls etc. Recently inspiring the work of graphic designers and Tattoo artists also.
Latinaish: What attracted you to working as a fileteador, more so than other types of art?
Alfredo Genovese: My interest in Fileteado began when I was an art student at the school of Bellas Artes, and was disappointed to see that this traditional Argentinian art form was not taught in schools. I began to study the basics with an old master Fileteado painter called Leon Untriob. Any information regarding this old art form was very limited at the time, so I decided to investigate as much as possible about the technique and later began teaching Fileteado workshops and have also published 3 books about it.
Latinaish: You’ve traveled all over the world! What are some of the biggest lessons you learned from other cultures that you’ve applied to your life and/or art?
Alfredo Genovese: I learned a lot about the value of elaborate and meticulous art work from different cultures all over the world. How to be methodical and patient like all those artisans who create their work daily.
Latinaish: What has been your favorite project so far? Why?
Alfredo Genovese: Three years ago I painted a live Bull. It was a challenge and the first time I had painted an animal weighing more than 1000kg.
Latinaish: What would your advice be to a young person who is thinking about studying to become a fileteador? Is there anything you wish you knew when you were a student first starting out?
Alfredo Genovese: I think its important for an artist to find their own style, different to what is commonly seen. To keep investigating and practice a lot. To be patient and self critical to achieve work of good content and quality. Actually Fileteado is not only a pictorial skill, but also a way of representing conceptual ideas.
I want to thank Mr. Genovese for his time and for sharing his art with us. You can learn more at his website, which is in both English and Spanish. On his website you will find more examples of his art, history and information about Fileteado, dates for workshops, and books about Fileteado which are available for purchase, (PDF summaries of the books can also be downloaded.) Love Fileteado? Follow Alfredo Genovese on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.
(Images are copyright Alfredo Genovese and have been used with permission.)
Robin Arthur is an artist out of San Antonio, Texas who creates amazing pet portraits inspired by Día de los Muertos themes and colors. When I stumbled upon her art last week, I contacted her to find out more because I knew you guys would love her work as much as I do. Below is my interview with Robin and a giveaway you can enter for a chance to win a print of her art!
Tell us about these pet portraits you do.
Robin: The portraits are based on photos that my customers send to me via email. I use pencil, pen and acrylic paint to create them. They are painted on wooden, box-like canvases. Sometimes I texture them by building up the paint into 3D textures or by sanding them with sandpaper. Many customers ask me to inject certain design elements into the paintings. For example: one recent customer’s dog takes Prozac, so I was asked to insert a little Prozac pill into the final piece. I love that!
Who/what influences/inspires your art?
Robin: I’ve always been drawn to the bright, warm colors in Mexican folk art. I love the hyper stylistic imagery of the Día de los Muertos holiday, Talavera tiles, Mexican interior design elements, Tex Mex kitsch, and so on. I am also inspired by the love people have for their furry family members and all other animals. I’m inspired by the animal kingdom in general and want to honor the world’s creatures by elevating them to an art form. I love making people happy by painting their beloved companions in my whimsical, silly style. People have been brought to (happy) tears by my paintings. There is so much pain in this world. It’s nice to be a bright spot for someone!
Although you were born and raised in Texas, surrounded by Mexican culture, you yourself are not of Mexican descent – Can you talk a little bit about that? How did Mexican culture become part of you?
Robin: The Mexican culture, while not my own culture, has always been the “wallpaper” of my life. Growing up in Texas means that you are surrounded by Mexican art, music, food, beautiful faces and, of course, the Spanish language. I lived in Arkansas for about 8 months in 2012 and didn’t realize, until I’d left Texas, how much I missed being around the Mexican culture. I’m so glad to be back in Texas!
If someone wanted to hire you to paint one of these portraits of their pet, how does it work?
Robin: The process is explained on my website, but basically, all people do is email me photos of their pets, pay the invoice I send them, and then I paint. It’s super easy!
RobiniArt portraits make great gifts and are a wonderful way to honor a furry family member, past or present. The portraits are completely original, a bright spot for any interior design, and a much better investment than something you can buy in a mall or big box store.
===GIVEAWAY CLOSED. CONGRATS TO FREDDA!===
Prize description: Robin is giving away one 8×10 print to one lucky random winner, to be picked out by the winner from RobiniArt.com!
How to Enter: To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below sharing a favorite pet memory or telling us what you like best about Robin’s art. (Please read official rules below before entering.)
Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the company/person in charge of prize fulfillment. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 48 hours to respond. After 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between October 2nd, 2013 through October 6th, 2013. Entries received after October 6th, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.
Buena suerte / Good luck!
Disclosure: No compensation, monetary or otherwise, was given for this post. As always, all opinions are my own.
Today I’m honored to share a guest post from children’s author and Salvadoran, René Colato Laínez, as part of a “blog hop” and giveaway by Latinas for Latino Literature (L4LL).
Twenty Latino/a authors and illustrators plus 20 Latina bloggers, (well, 19 Latina bloggers and this gringa), have joined up with L4LL for this event. From April 10th to April 30th a different Latino/a author/illustrator will be hosted on a different blog. (Click here for all the posts!) Today you can read René’s touching article right here on Latinaish.com and then see the details to enter the giveaway below.
Without further ado, I present, René Colato Laínez.
Finding My Heroes
by René Colato Laínez
I learned to read and write in El Salvador. As a child, I loved to read the comic books of my heroes: El Chavo del ocho, El Chapulin Colorado, Mafalda, Cri Cri, and Topo Gigo. My favorite book was Don Quijote de La Mancha.
When I arrived to the United States, I tried to find these heroes in the school library or in my reading books, but I didn’t have any luck. I asked myself, are my heroes only important in Spanish? I knew that the children from Latin America knew about my heroes but the rest of the children and my teachers did not have any clue.
One day, I was writing about my super hero and my teacher asked me, who is this CHA-PO-WHAT? COLORADO and then, she suggested, “It would be better for you to write about Superman or Batman.” On another occasion, a teacher crossed out with her red pen all the instances of “Ratón Pérez” in my essay and told me, “A mouse collecting teeth! What a crazy idea! You need to write about the Tooth Fairy.”
I started to read and enjoy other books but I missed my heroes. In my senior year of high school, my English teacher said that our next reading book would be The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I will never forget that day when I was holding the book. It was written by a Latina writer and I could relate to everything that she was describing in the book. The House On Mango Street became my favorite book. I said to myself, “Yes, we are also important in English.”
I write multicultural children books because I want to tell all my readers that our Latino voices are important, too, and that they deserve to be heard all over the world.
My goal as a writer is to produce good multicultural children’s literature; stories where minority children are portrayed in a positive way, where they can see themselves as heroes, and where they can dream and have hope for the future. I want to write authentic stories of Latin American children living in the United States.
My new book is Juguemos al Fútbol/ Let’s Play Football (Santillana USA). This is a summary of the book: Carlos is not sure that football can be played with an oval-shaped ball. Chris is not sure that it can be played with a round ball. It may not be a good idea to play with a kid who is so different… He doesn’t even know how to play this game! Wait. It looks kind of fun… Let’s give it a try! Enjoy and celebrate the coming together of two cultures through their favorite sports.
To conclude, I want to share this letter in English and Spanish. Everyone, let’s read!
When I was a child, my favorite place in the house was a corner where I always found a rocking chair. I rocked myself back and forth while I read a book. Soon the rocking chair became a magic flying carpet that took me to many different places. I met new friends. I lived great adventures. In many occasions, I was able to touch the stars. All the books I read transported me to the entire universe.
Books inspired me! I also wanted to write about the wonderful world that I visited in my readings. I started to write my own stories, poems and adventures in my diary. Every time I read and revised my stories, I found new adventures to tell about. Now, I write children’s books and it is an honor to share my books with children around the world.
I invite you to travel with me. Pick up a book and you will find wonders. Books are full of adventures, friends and fantastic places. Read and reach for the stars.
René Colato Laínez
Cuando era niño, el lugar favorito de mi casa era una esquina donde estaba una mecedora. Me mecía de adelante hacia atrás mientras leía un libro. Enseguida la mecedora se convertía en una alfombra mágica y volaba por el cielo. Conocía a nuevos amigos. Vivía nuevas aventuras. En muchas ocasiones, hasta llegaba a tocar las estrellas. Los libros que leía, me podían llevar a cualquier parte del universo.
¡Los libros me inspiraban tanto! Yo también quería escribir sobre ese mundo maravilloso que visitaba. Así que comencé a escribir mis cuentos, poemas y aventuras en un diario. Cada vez que releía y volvía a escribir un cuento, este se llenaba de nuevas grandes aventuras. Hoy en día escribo libros para niños y es un honor compartirlos con muchos niños alrededor del mundo.
Los invito a viajar conmigo. Tomen un libro y descubrirán maravillas. Los libros están llenos de aventuras, amigos, y lugares hermosos. Lean y toquen las estrellas.
René Colato Laínez
L4LL has put together a wonderful collection of Latino children’s literature to be given to a school or public library. Many of the books were donated by the authors and illustrators participating in this blog hop. You can read a complete list of titles here on the L4LL website.
To enter your school library or local library in the giveaway, simply leave a comment below.
The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Monday, April 29th, 2013. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and announced on the L4LL website on April 30th, Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros, and will be contacted via email – so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If we have no way to contact you, we’ll have to choose someone else!)
By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.
When I first saw the trailer for The Girl, I knew immediately that I wanted to see the film – and then I found out that it opens on March 8th in New York and on March 15th in Los Angeles, (two locations I’m nowhere near.) Thankfully I not only got the opportunity to screen the film online, but to interview the director, David Riker.
I think you’ll be able to sense how much I loved this film from my interview questions (below), but if it isn’t clear enough, I’ll tell you – I loved it and recommend that anyone who is able to see it – go see it. I’ve watched a lot of films with immigration and border themes – this one is different thanks to the fact that it’s told through the eyes of a gringa who is already struggling with her own issues. The Girl will make you think, and then think twice about border issues and what defines a good life.
From David Riker, the director of La Ciudad, and Paul Mezey, the producer of Oscar-nominated films Maria Full of Grace and Beasts of the Southern Wild, comes a new film The Girl.
Abbie Cornish plays Ashley, a young single mom struggling with the loss of her child to Social Services, unwilling to accept the consequences of her actions and trapped in the quicksand of her south Texas life.
When Ashley’s path collides with Rosa (Maritza Santiago Hernandez), a strong-minded girl who has lost her mother while crossing the Rio Grande, she unwittingly begins a journey that will change her life forever.
Starting in a big box store in Texas and ending in a small village in southern Mexico, The Girl turns the immigrant story upside down, questioning the myth of the American Dream and asks that we consider the possibility of a better life – south of the border.
Interview with Director, David Riker
Latinaish: I understand you also wrote the script for this film? What was your inspiration?
DR: My inspiration to write the script has its roots in my debut feature, called ‘La Ciudad’ which was filmed over the course of five years in New York’s Latin American immigrant community. Listening to so many stories of sacrifice in crossing the border, I decided to travel there and see with my own eyes. What I saw was deeply upsetting, but also surprising, and after traveling back and forth through the borderlands I came to realize that my own preconceptions of the border were false — as is the central myth that hope is in the north. That realization led me to consider a story in which the logic of the border were turned upside down — and to ask the question, what might happen if an Anglo crossed the border — south.
Latinaish: The cinematography of this film was really breathtaking, particularly scenes that took place in Oaxaca, Mexico. Was this shot on location? Can you tell us about that?
DR: Yes, almost all of the film was shot in Mexico, but due to the violence in Tamaulipas (including Nuevo Laredo) we were not able to film along the border. This was a major creative setback as I had spent several years developing close relationships with people in the border city and had every location scouted. In the end we filmed all of the Mexico portion of the story in the state of Oaxaca — much of it in the Istmo, though some in the capital, in addition to the village at the end which is in the Sierra Norte. ‘Re-creating the border’ became the central creative challenge we faced, affecting every department from production design, casting, and wardrobe. The cinematographer is one of the stars of Mexico’s new generation, known for his lyrical work in El Violin.
Latinaish: Which scene was most difficult to capture, either emotionally or physically, and why? What challenges did you face on set?
DR: The most difficult scene… An interesting question. From an emotional standpoint, without a doubt the scene when Rosa realizes her mother has died. From a logistical standpoint, perhaps the nighttime river crossing which I intentionally wanted to film as a baptismal event. Every scene is a challenge, and every challenge is different. More than anything you are battling the lack of time and limited resources, and desperately fighting against compromise. But the Mexican crew and the actors were like a family and we all fought the battle each day together.
Latinaish: I love that the “gringa” in this film, “Ashley”, played by actress Abbie Cornish, spoke Spanish so much of the time, but there was no explanation in the plot as to how the character learned to speak it so well – Can we assume she learned it just by living in southern Texas or from her co-workers? Did the actress, Abbie, already speak Spanish before the film?
DR: You are right, Ashley’s character was a composite of many people I’ve known, and a number of characters I met along the borderlands. Ashley speaks spanish because she has grown up in a Spanish-speaking world in South Texas. But Abbie Cornish didn’t speak a word. I think it’s a great testament to Abbie’s talent and force of character that she was undaunted by the challenge and threw herself into it with total commitment. As she said the first day we met to talk about the project, she didn’t simply want to learn her Spanish dialogues by heart, she wanted to understand the language.
Latinaish: The character “Rosa” played by Maritza Santiago Hernández had a fantastically stubborn personality in the film and I really fell in love with her. Was this her first film? Are there any other projects we can look for her in any time soon?
DR: I too fell in love with Maritza. She is an amazing girl, and yes, this is her first film role. I spent a great deal of time ‘searching for Rosa’ and saw thousands of young girls in communities all over Oaxaca. The casting took more than a year of full time work. I was not looking for a girl who could ‘play’ Rosa — I was looking for Rosa. And when I finally found Maritza I knew I had found her. She needed to be small but very strong, or tough or as you put it ‘stubborn.’ She needed to be full of life and light, but also depth. She needed to be naughty but also thoughtful. And of course she needed to have the indigenous features of the zapotec people in Oaxaca. After the film’s Mexico premiere at the Morelia Film Festival many journalists asked if she wanted to have an acting career. Her answer: ‘first she’ll finish school and become a teacher.’
Latinaish: What do you hope to accomplish with this film? What do you want the audience to take away?
I appreciate the question, as hope is the thing that sustains every storyteller. I hope that the film helps to generate dialogue about what it means to be an American, what it means to be an immigrant today, uprooted and far from home. I hope it helps to re-frame these questions in such a way that real understanding can begin — not through the limited lens of political debate – but in the broadest sense — what is our common humanity? What is it that divides us, and what do we share in common? Of course I know that it is after all only a film, so the goal must be modest. If people enjoy the story, are happy to meet young Maritza and to travel the journey with Ashley, I’m already a happy man.
Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation in italics!
Dawin Polanco es un joven músico dominicano-americano con mucho talento. Él no sólo canta, sino que también toca la guitarra y el piano. Vean por ustedes mismos – aquí es su versión de As Long As You Love Me por Justin Bieber, pero estilo bachata. Me encanta!
(Dawin Polanco is a young Dominican-American musician with a lot of talent. Not only does he sing, but he also plays guitar and piano. Look for yourself – here is his version of As Long As You Love Me by Justin Bieber, but bachata style. I love it!)
Claro que Dawin tiene sus propias canciones también, como esta canción, Light of Day (Let ‘Em Go). ¡Qué bella la canción!(Of course Dawin has his own songs too, like this one, Light of Day (Let ‘Em Go).) It’s so beautiful!
Quieren aprender más sobre Dawin? Aquí les traigo una mini-entrevista con él. Chécalo! (Want to learn more about Dawin? Here I bring you a mini-interview with him. Check it out!)
Latinaish habla con cantante, Dawin
(Latinaish speaks with singer, Dawin)
Latinaish: Eres dominicano-americano, ¿Cómo han contribuido las dos culturas en tu vida? (You’re Dominican-American – How have those two cultures contributed to your life?)
Dawin: Sí soy dominicano – estas culturas me han dado el lujo de poder disfrutar plenamente o comprender lo que sucede en el mundo inglés y español. (Yes, I’m Dominican – these cultures have given me the luxury of being able to fully enjoy or understand what is happening in the English and Spanish world.)
Latinaish: ¿Por qué haces música? Parece una pregunta simple, pero no siempre tiene una respuesta fácil! Lo sé porque la gente me ha preguntado por qué escribo.(Why do you make music? It seems like a simple question, but it doesn’t always have an easy answer! I know because people have asked me before why I write.)
Dawin: Es cierto. Por suerte siempre he tenido mi respuesta [se ríe.] Hago música porque es mi manera de vaciar mi mente de cosas negativas y crear música es mi forma de rejuvenecer. (It’s true. Luckily I’ve always had my answer [laughs.] I make music because it’s my way to empty my mind of negative things and making music is my way of rejuvenating.)
Latinaish: ¿Dónde podemos encontrar/comprar tu música? ¿Crees que un día vamos a escuchar una canción en español o spanglish de ti? (Where can we find/buy your music? Do you think we’ll ever hear a song from you in Spanish or Spanglish?)
Dawin: Mi música se puede encontrar en sitios como YouTube donde me gusta hacer mis estrenos. Tengo música gratis y disponible para descarga aquí: www.soundcloud.com/dawin y en iTunes. Te prometo que voy a hacer una canción en español o spanglish y como continuar con mi éxito, me gustaría hacerlo con artistas conocidos. (My music can be found on sites like YouTube where I like to make my premieres. I have free music and it’s available for download here: www.soundcloud.com/dawin and on iTunes. I promise I’ll do a song in Spanish or Spanglish and to continue with my success, I would like to do it with well-known artists.)
What is a Naco? What is a Pocho? Have you ever been called one of these words? Do you readily identify yourself as a naco or a pocho? Do you find them offensive?
Mun2 discusses these words with some famous faces including: Lalo Alcaraz, Xavier El Eléctrico, Gustavo Arellano, Penelope Menchaca, Alacranes Musical, Alex Rivera, Luis de Alba, Edoardo Chavarin, La Bronca, Larry Hernandez, 3ball MTY (pictured above), Gloria Trevi, Daniel Hernandez, Gerardo Ortiz, Los Tucanes de Tijuana, Edward James Olmos, Montez de Durango, Jenni Rivera, and Duelo.
Check out the video over on mun2!
It turns out that Teresa had some video of her face-to-face chat with him that she hadn’t uploaded and she agreed to share her thoughts on meeting Espinoza along with the video right here on Latinaish as a guest post!
So bienvenida y gracias Teresa!
Espinoza Paz, un hombre sencillamente “talentoso”
by Teresa Garza of Checa La Movie
Espinoza Paz, “El Cantante del Pueblo”, es de las artistas más sencillos que conozco. Roba el corazón con su sonrisa sincera y se expresa con naturalidad utilizando palabras francas y directas. “Me pasa de todo en la vida”, – dijo el popular cantante, ” pero son más las cosas lindas gracias a Dios”.
Durante el día de prensa de “Girl in Progress” tuvimos la oportunidad de conversar con él y ¡que plática tan amena!. Espinoza Paz nació el 29 de octubre de 1981 en La Angostura, Sinaloa. Emigró a los Estados Unidos y su llegada a este país fue decisiva en su camino al éxito.
Una serie de eventos inesperados, pero casi mágicos, fueron uniendo los puntos para trazar una ruta que cambio para bien la vida de Isidro Chávez, ahora conocido como Espinoza Paz.
Primero se convirtió en uno de los compositores más importantes de la música mexicana y posteriormente decidió interpretar sus propias canciones, logrando en poco tiempo convertirse en uno de los consentidos del público. Trabajando arduamente por consolidarse en su carrera se encontró por casualidad con la directora de cine Patricia Riggen, cuando ella estaba en el proceso de elegir al elenco de la película “Girl in Progress”.
“Hubo una fiesta de amigos …Patty y yo tenemos amigos en común y ahí la conocí”, dijo Paz, “mis amigos me dijeron le caíste muy bien y quiere que salgas en una película”.
Paz confiesa que inicialmente pensó que era una broma de sus amigos sobre todo que en ese momento de su carrera no era tan popular como en la actualidad. La cuestión es que aclarado el asunto Patricia Riggen y Espinoza Paz se reunieron para hablar sobre la posibilidad de tener una breve intervención en la cinta cantando. La química fue tal que Paz terminó no solamente por cantar en “Girl in Progress” sino por filmar escenas adicionales que la directora agregó para darle una mayor proyección. “Obviamente ella acomodo las cosas”, dijo Paz quien asegura que Patricia tuvo la visión de presagiar un futuro victorioso. “Creo en Dios.. Dios es el destino”.
En cuánto a dedicarse a la actuación, definitivamente no descarta la posibilidad. Pero siempre que estos proyectos no lo obliguen a abandonar su verdadera pasión que es la música y la composición.
De hecho existe la posibilidad de que la vida de Espinoza Paz pudiera llevarse a la pantalla grande. Ya se han reunido en varias ocasiones la directora Riggen y Espinoza Paz, así que no debiera sorprendernos que de repente lo veamos protagonizando una película, que de acuerdo a sus declaraciones podría estar basada en su propia vida.
Comparto con ustedes un video que tome el día de la entrevista, no lo había subido a Youtube porque les confieso que lo grabe en el Ipad y era la primera vez que lo utilizaba. Pero las imágenes en este caso, no son tan importantes como escuchar el mensaje de Paz que nos confesó cual es su fuente de inspiración, nos contó cuál es su película favorita y hasta nos dio un adelanto de su disco de Mariachi que esta por salir. Tienen que escucharlo cantar.
Did you enjoy this post? Check out the latest movies including behind-the-scenes and interviews with celebrities on Teresa Garza’s blog, Checa La Movie.
I was contacted many times with the opportunity to interview any of the contestants of Jennifer Lopez’s and Marc Anthony’s new show, Q’Viva The Chosen. I responded that if they had any contestants who were Salvadoran, I’d be interested.
Well, I got my wish! Junior and Emily are half-Salvadoran salsa dancing siblings from California. Check out my exclusive interview with Junior below!
Latinaish: I saw your auditions with Marc Anthony in Q’Viva and it’s very clear that you guys are professional dancers and that you love to dance. At what age did you start learning to dance?
(See Junior and Emily at minute 2:25)
Junior: We love what we do! We have been dancing salsa for 12 years together. Emily started when she was 10 years old and I started when I was 14 years old. It’s an incredible feeling to do what you love and to do with your sister. To be able to travel and share amazing and unforgettable moments with family.
Latinaish: You guys dance salsa but do you like other types of dance as well?
Junior: We love all types of music and dance. Our specialty is salsa but we also do other types of social dances.
Latinaish: What are your favorite songs to dance to right now?
Junior: We love to dance to everything! As of right now we have been very into doing music by Rodrigo y Gabriela.
Latinaish: You guys are siblings and you have a lot of chemistry when you dance together, but siblings have a tendency to argue and annoy each other. What does your brother/sister do that annoys you more than anything?
Junior: We have learned to work together. We have learned to separate the personal and the professional. We have been dancing for 12 years together so like everything else, it’s a learning process. The thing that we try and focus on most is pushing each other past our comfort zone and constantly pushing limits. We always have to keep each other positive and motivated when things get really tough because for us it’s a never-ending process to create new limits and continue to innovate.
Latinaish: Your biography says that you’re from San Francisco, California – but I also heard you’re Salvadoran. My husband is from Soyapango, so I’m curious – who in your family is from El Salvador? Your father? Mother? (From what part?)
Junior: That’s exciting to hear that your husband is Salvadorean as well! We were both born and raised in San Francisco, California, but we currently live in Los Angeles, California. We are both half Salvadorean and half Korean. Our father is from Santa Ana, El Salvador and our mother is from Seoul, Korea.
Latinaish: Have you visited El Salvador?
Junior: We have been invited to perform in El Salvador before, but unfortunately we have never been able to go because of schedule conflicts. We would definitely love to visit someday!
Latinaish: In the Q’Viva competition, you guys represent the United States, but do you also feel like you represent El Salvador?
Junior: Yes, we were representing the USA, but we definitely felt that we represented El Salvador as well. Our parents divorced when we were really young and we were raised by our father. We were brought up knowing only our Salvadorean side of the family. It was such an honor to represent both countries.
Latinaish: What else can you tell us about your part on the show Q’Viva?
Junior: Q’Viva was an amazing and unforgettable experience for us. It was so incredible to see such amazing talent from all over the world and for us to be a part of that was an honor. We definitely were extremely excited and nervous at the same time performing for Marc, Jennifer, and Jamie. It will be a moment that we will never forget!
The other day I talked about my accent and whether I should embrace it or continue to attempt to erase it. For the sake of brevity, (which I don’t think I quite succeeded at anyway), I edited the post before publishing and took out some other points I wanted to make.
One of the rabbits I didn’t chase down the path the other day, but will today, is the fact that the gringo/a accent in Spanish is often perceived as one of two things:
1. Ugly, (i.e. “That gringo’s accent is horrible. He’s butchering our language!“)
2. Amusing, funny, hilarious
Latinos born and raised in the United States who have difficulty speaking Spanish are often made fun of or criticized even more heavily than Caucasian gringos who try to learn the language. Jennifer Lopez, Cristina Aguilera, Erik Estrada and many other celebrities have taken plenty of flack in the past.
Yet native Spanish speakers with heavy accents in English are often considered “sexy.”
And so the question occurred to me – why the double standard? It seems rather unfair, (and yet, even I admit that I would rather hear a native Spanish speaker speak English with an accent than a native English speaker speak Spanish with an accent.)
I decided to ask an acquaintance I made this past year, François Grosjean, a Professor of psycholinguistics and author of several books including, Bilingual: Life and Reality. I don’t know him in person but I discovered him via the fascinating articles he writes on Psychology Today and once E-mailed him questions I had regarding the phenomenon some bilinguals experience which feels somewhat like having a split personality. He happened to be working on an article on that very topic and asked permission to quote me. (The article: Change of Language, Change of Personality? is here. I’m quoted as “Bilingual 1.”)
And so, when I had this new question on my mind, I didn’t hesitate to contact Dr. Grosjean again. I asked:
…Why is it that when White/Anglo/”Gringos” speak Spanish with an accent, it is usually considered “ugly” sounding or “funny” – Yet it seems when native Spanish speakers speak English with an accent, it can be considered “sexy”…
I’m sure this can be said about other languages as well. If you asked Americans if they preferred to hear a native French speaker speak English with an accent or a native German speaker speak English with an accent, I believe the majority would choose the French speaker. The French accent in English is considered sexy or pretty, but the German accent is considered ugly and harsh.
Are these learned cultural preferences or are there scientific linguistic differences that simply make one scenario more pleasing to the ears than the other?
Dr. Grosjean gave me permission to share excerpts of his E-mail. He answered, in part:
“As for the other question: “are there scientific linguistic differences that simply make one scenario more pleasing to the ears than the other?” – I don’t have an answer. You’d expect that researchers would have examined this but I personally don’t know of a study. Everything you say is correct but how much is due to the way the dominant language sounds and how much to cultural preferences is simply not known.”
So there you have it – it’s still a mystery!
While I had Dr. Grosjean’s ear though, I also asked him what he thought of my dilemma regarding my accent. Should I erase it or embrace it? His opinion?
“I think the best thing is to accept it as it is. Your loved ones like you the way you are, with an accent, and that is what really matters. As for the others, hopefully, with time, they’ll put more emphasis on how well you speak Spanish and not on the accent that you have. In any case, the more you do speak Spanish, the more your accent will improve; so it’s a win win situation all the way, I think.”
Thanks to Dr. Grosjean for allowing me to quote him and for being so kind in answering my various linguistic questions. Check out his most recent Psychology Today post – it should hit home to many of you, (as it did for me!)