Flatiron NoMad celebrates Dia de los Muertos 

Melani Bonilla, Multimedia Editor

The Flatiron NoMad Partnership presented a Día de Muertos celebration on Nov. 2 at Flatiron North Plaza.

The free event featured several traditions including a curated mix of Mexican folklore by the Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, sugar skull decorating and an interactive community altar in partnership with the School of Visual Arts.

The event started at 12PM and ended at 4PM with hourly performances from the dance company, as well as a sign up for a free dinner lottery.

Flatiron Nomad Partnership led the lottery with directions and slips given out by Melissa Benedek, the Marketing and Content Coordinator.

Benedek, in an interview with The Ticker, commented on how many attended the celebration. “Since we started, I’d say we’ve had a few hundred people pass through the North Plaza for this amazing event,” she said.

Many adults and children crowded the plaza, interested in the decorative papel picado strung around as well as the several booths offering free merchandise and promotional giveaways.

The Calpulli Mexican Dance Company brought together six of their dancers to perform traditional dances displayed around Dia de Los Muertos.

One dance included a dancer dressed up as La Catrina, a symbol of Mexican traditions and roots. According to the Day of the Dead holiday website,“La Catrina “became a strong symbol for the numerous Day of the Dead activities. Women paint their faces in colorful make-up and dress with elegant outfits evoking the famous symbolic skeleton.”

Another dance was called “Danza de los Viejitos,” where two dancers wore masks to represent an elderly woman and man. The traditional dance was performed by four men that represent fire, water, earth and air.

Traditional music accompanied the multiple dances blasted on loudspeakers, bringing together several people to crowd around the dancers.

Beside the dances and accompanying music, there was a sugar skull decorating station where participants could use a variety of supplies to paint their own skull. Several of the skulls were put on display on the altar once people finished decorating it.

The altar was designed in partnership with the School of Visual Arts, led by Paulina Mendoza Valdez, an SVA MFA alum.

“We chose to put things that are more traditionally Mexican like the food, sweet bread, pan de muerto, tamales, tequila,” Valdez said in an interview with the Ticker. “My peers had the idea of laying them right around the altar to make them more personal to themselves, so even though it’s communal, everybody has some sort of attachment and connection to it.”

The mural allowed participants to write their own offerings and write on it, with some scattered “I miss you” and “Rest in Peace” messages in chalk.