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La Cambalacha was founded in 2002 by Gabriela
Cordón, a native Guatemalan. A nationally acclaimed choreographer and performance artist, Gabriela was one of the founding members of the Commission of Contemporary Urban Art in Guatemala City, and a workshop teacher for the highly successful street theatre and social development NGO “Caja Ludica”. After a decade and a half of teaching and performing, Gabriela chose to close her dance school in the city to work in rural communities for the decentralization of arts education in Guatemala.
In 2002, Gabriela built La Cambalacha's studio for workshops and shows. She now works as director and teacher for the project. Charlie Rendall (UK) and Lorena Roffé (Argentina), technical assistant and co-director, joined in 2004 and 2006. Together, they run the project alongside local Youth Leaders. Their team of local and international artists and facilitators give art workshops in schools, public spaces and at La Cambalacha's studio and workshops. Facilitators guide participants through creative processes to channel their individual and collective energy towards confidencebuilding, social integration and artistic formation. Over 200 volunteers from all over the world (including Ireland) have taught workshops in theatre, dance, music, yoga, puppeteering, acrobatics, circus arts, arts and crafts, and much more.
La Cambalacha is based in San Marcos La Laguna, located on the shores of Lake Atitlán, Sololá, Guatemala. FACTS: The population of Guatemala is 13, 270,000. It is roughly 1.5 times larger than Ireland in size. Guatemala was a colony of Spain for 3 centuries, winning independence in 1821. As well as Spanish there are 23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel (spoken in San Marcos), Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca.
The community of San Marcos de la Laguna and neighbouring communities on Lake Atitlan are the focus of La Cambalacha’s activities. Children, young people, families, community leaders and teachers are encouraged to get involved in the creative arts. La Cambalacha operates a programme of professionalization, whereby committed participants can get professional training in the arts and become facilitators in the organisation.
La Cambalacha works for “Social Integration through Creative Expression”, providing
workshops and technical support for creative initiatives through: • Instruction, exhibition, production and exchange of the different forms of creative expression • Artistic initiation and formation of children and youth through arts sensitization and creativity classes • Motivation of participants to experiment and learn, and to share their talents with their communities. La Cambalacha is a cultural project that operates as a permanent creativity workshop for the: • Instruction, exhibition, production and exchange of the different forms of creative expression • Artistic initiation and formation of children and youth through arts sensitization and creativity classes • Motivation of participants to experiment and learn, and to share their talents with their communities To find out more go to: www.lacambalacha.org
Photos: La Cambalacha.
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METHODOLOGY Participative and Experiential - Flexible & Adaptable - Non-Imposing - Analytical - Evolving
An essential part of La Cambalacha’s work is to respect and include the customs, traditions, culture and worldview of participants. They see their role as guiding young people to creative processes and helping participants to recognize themselves as creators and leaders. By learning to express themselves constructively and recreationally, the participants develop their understanding of the world, raise their self-esteem, and cultivate respect for each other. They also develop new skills that they are using to earn a living. La Cambalacha has five free participation programs: Cambalacha en tu Barrio (Cambalacha in your Neighborhood) Workshops, parades and murals in the street and other public spaces; this program has reached thousands of children from the region. Katok Pa´(Come In) Anyone can organize a group and solicit a schedule for classes or rehearsals; La Cambalacha provides the space, technical support and teachers.
BACKGROUND La Cambalacha is based in San Marcos La Laguna,
located on the shores of Lake Atitlán, Sololá, Guatemala. Its 2,500 inhabitants subsist on the coffee and corn they farm. Four decades of civil war, and centuries of colonial oppression have left communities like San Marcos La Laguna divided by socioeconomic position, gender, religion, language and more. These communities have been marginalised, segregated and deprived of many basic human needs. The majority of households in San Marcos La Laguna suffer from economic poverty, malnourishment, health problems and alcoholism. Opportunities for education and employment are limited. Guatemala’s public education system provides very few options for artistic development: the national budget currently invests little or nothing towards creative processes in the schools. The education to which especially rural children and youth have access is monotonous, repetitive does not generate creativity from both teachers and students.
Jóvenes Arco Iris (Rainbow Youth) Our more advanced participants receive scholarships to work as assistant facilitators and attend all teachers’ training and artistic formation workshops. Tardes de Creatividad y Amistad (Afternoons of Creativity and Friendship) Integrated arts workshops open to all children aged 7-15. Niñ@s Arco Iris (Rainbow Children) More committed students receive scholarships for a rigorous arts formation, producing performances that have been attended by thousands of spectators from neighboring communities. See Case Study below. WHERE DID THE PARTNERSHIP BEGIN? MCAC started working with La Cambalacha in 2006. A Cork-based artist had spent some time there as a volunteer and brought back information about the organisation. They were invited to participate in Art Encounter 2006. Since then, local young people and young adults from Mayfield have been Volunteering at La Cambalacha exchanging skills and approaches.
CASE STUDY NIN@S ARCO IRIS “Niñ@s Arco Iris is a group of 16 children that have been selected from other programs to receive a scholarship (otherwise they would have to work collecting wood) to help support their families while participating in this intensive arts formation program. They come three times a week from 2-5pm. They receive workshops in dance, music, theater, arts&crafts, peace education, childrens´ rights, story-telling, and more. They participate in the program until they finish primary school (age 14 aprox) and then move on to the Youth Leadership program. The scholarship they receive is worth the wood they would collect in the time they spend here. The children that have been participating in this program are notably more expressive, participative and outgoing compared to other children in the towns we work with.” Gabriela Cordon. To watch La Cambalacha in action click here! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2-B3rF-C8c