Special thanks to Kansas Humanities Council and American Libraries Assn for underwriting this exhibit.

A Living History:  the Azteca Club and the Azteca Dancers

Compiled from oral interviews with Patrice Olais and Raymond Olais in December, 2015; Crystal Oster in February, 2016; as well as current and past members of the Azteca Dancers.

The Azteca Club began in 1990 as a special interest club at Newton High School.  First called the Spanish Club, the name was changed to Hispanic Club and then to Azteca Club so as to be inclusive of all pre-Hispanic culture, rather than just the Spanish side.  The club’s size in the early days was 15 to 20 students with the numbers reaching 100-120 by 2015.

Within the club is a group of about 20 who comprise the Azteca Dance Troupe.  The origins of the dance group can be traced to the 1970s, when there were at least two dance troupes from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Newton.  The Our Lady troupes performed folkloric dances on a routine basis.  The church troupes were disbanded in the 1980s, when the fiestas were discontinued in Newton.

The Azteca Club was formed with the goal of broadening cultural experiences.  With practices held twice weekly, the dance troupe is a type of living history.  As the Azteca Dancers have performed across the state of Kansas–including Wichita, Hutchinson, Emporia, Lawrence, and Chanute–both the dancers and the audience have gained a better understanding of pre-Hispanic traditions and culture.

Click on the first image to scroll through the slideshow.

Interview with Nicole Bornowsky:

Interview with Crystal Oster:

Interview with Patrice and Ray Olais part 1:

Interview with Patrice and Ray Olais part 2: