Passion, pride strong for students in Esperanza Academy Dance Ensemble

The high school students train after school for three hours a day, five days a week.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As many celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Action News is shining light on local groups working to keep their Latinx customs alive and thriving.

A youth dance company in North Philadelphia is brimming with culture and talent.

The Esperanza Academy Dance Ensemble has about 25 students at Esperanza Academy Public Charter High School.

Perhaps you've seen their incredible performances around the city.

For these 15 to 18-year-olds, this is where talent and dedication meet passion and pride.

"It brings them joy, empowerment, and self-esteem," said Tania Ramos Otón, the Dance Teacher at Esperanza Academy. "It also helps the students embrace who they are and where they are from. We have performed in a lot of spaces that we are not traditionally in."

They have performed in spaces like the Kimmel Cultural Campus, Annenberg Center, and events like Philadelphia's Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The high school students train after school for three hours a day, five days a week.

"I found that I truly do love this, and I can see it in my future," said Justin Cruz, a senior at Esperanza Academy Public Charter High School. "I can see myself continuing along professionally and studying it in college."

The ensemble is only open to students at Esperanza Academy Public Charter High School, but they're hoping to broaden that in the future.

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