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Student performs folkloric dance of Panama

While most students spend their summers earning cash, advancing career plans or recuperating from a hard year of coursework, Zojeila Itzel Flores, a senior in biology from Corona, CA, spent her summer in Panama learning the native dances and the folklore behind them.

With partner Policarpo Mejia, director of Proyecciones y Danzas Paname�as in Brooklyn, NY, Ms. Flores will perform eight of these dances in a program titled "La Pollera y sus Balles" (The Pollera [national dress of Panama] and Its Dances), on Saturday, Oct. 9 at 7pm in Killian Hall.

Ms. Flores used her 1998 List Foundation Fellowship in the Arts to study with dance mentor Elisa R. de Cespedes, director/choreographer of the Ballet Folklorico Paname�o.

In addition to verbally explaining the movements, Ms. Flores will expound the story of her elaborate traditional dress -- the pollera. "The do�as -- my mama and grandma -- are very proud and excited that I had this opportunity to learn the traditional Panamanian dances," Ms. Flores said, noting that her entire family helped with the intricate beadwork of her headpiece and jewelry.

Established in 1992 with support from the Albert A. List Foundation, the List Foundation Fellowship Program in the Arts for Students of Color was created to "encourage a broad range of artistic endeavor and to further cultural investigation, affirmation and understanding through the arts by supporting students of color in their exploration of traditional and nontraditional art forms."

The fellowship awards up to $5,000 annually to two MIT students. Applications are available in Rm E15-205 or at the program web site. The deadline is Saturday, Oct. 30. For more information, contact Holly Kosisky, x3-8089, or

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 6, 1999.

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