Interview with Adelita of Calpulli Tlayolotl

YoloArts checks in with Adelita Serena of Calpulli Tlayolotl. To support and build the capacity of arts projects in the County of Yolo, YoloArts offers fiscal sponsorship to projects aligned with our mission and vision. Fiscal sponsorship includes fiduciary oversight and management enabling projects to receive donations, grants, and gifts. We are proud to partner with Calpulli Tlayolotl in this capacity.

Adelita Serena has been a Yolo County resident for 20 years, and has raised both her teenage sons in the City of Woodland. Adelita has been an Aztec Dancer for over 26 years and started the group, Calpulli Tlayolotl, in Woodland 10 years ago because she seen a gap in this kind of cultural enrichment programming in the area. As part of her cultural outreach to the community she provides classes through YoloArts to the detained youth at the Juvenile Detention Facility in Yolo County in hopes that they will be receiving different forms of art that can stimulate their growth and ideas of how to give back and show up for their community.

Can you tell us a bit about the tradition of Danza and what inspired you to form Calpulli Tlayolotl in Woodland?

Adelita: Danza is a tradition that pre-dates Colonial times and originates from Mexico’s indigenous tribes 100’s of years before Spanish arrival. The dance itself historically had many purposes, and was usually performed to honor cosmic and agricultural shifts that are significant to the survival of the Mexica population as well as coming of age ceremonies, marriages, and celebratory occasions. We still dance to honor the shift in seasons and to celebrate life events, but we also perform to educate youth and adults alike as well participate in festivals.

Where does Calpulli Tlayolotl perform?

Adelita: Calpulli Tlayolotl performs all over the County and California for education and to celebrate different events. We frequently perform at UCDavis and Woodland Community College as well as other educational establishments.

Personally, I really enjoy seeing each dancer’s unique Regalia and watching the movement of it. Who creates the Regalia and what is the significance of its use?

Our Danza regalia is unique to each dancer, I have made much of our regalia, but also have custom pieces made for our dancers. Our colors represent the different elements as well as the symbols you may see in our patterns. Our feathers represent the sun rays as we are known as the people of the sun. The chachayotes (anklets) you see us wear and hear, are meant to bring happiness to those that hear them and are part of the rhythmic experience overall.

Community is inherently important in storytelling traditions. Can you tell us about the community presence and partnerships Calpulli Tlayolotl has?

Adelita: Calpulli Tlayolotl has formed many partnerships in our community in an effort to share our traditions and storytelling, many of those partnerships are with organizations that serve the youth such as SAYS (Sacramento Area Youth Speaks), UCDavis, Woodland Community College, Cesar Chavez Elementary School, ASSETS program, Empower Yolo, International House, and many more!

How is the Danza group staying connected and active during Safer at Home?

Adelita: Calpulli Tlayolotl has held many zoom conference calls as a group, and I am currently developing online step by step video’s that will help our group stay creative making regalia during our safer at home time.

How can people learn more about your work, become involved, and support your efforts?

Adelita: Stay in contact with us at: https://www.calpullitlayolotl.org/