Spotlight on Latinx Achievement: Sergio Quiroz
Tell us a little bit about yourself / background and your role at the Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center?
Originally born and raised in Coahuila, Torreon, I immigrated to Minnesota in 1989, and began my life’s work in cultural organizing in high school coordinating events such as Dia de los Muertos and dancing in a Baile Folklorico group. In 1997, I began my journey as a Mexica Nahua traditional dancer. As Founder of the traditional Mexica Nahua cultural group, Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli (2006), I lead, teach and present at community workshops, events, conferences and artist residencies throughout the state of Minnesota as well as nationally and internationally.
In addition to my role as a lead dancer and artist, I co-founded Indigenous Roots (2015), an arts organization that provides space and opportunities for Native, Black, Brown and Indigenous Artists and Organizers rooted in arts, culture and activism. In May 2017, Indigenous Roots opened its cultural arts center on the East Side of Saint Paul in partnership with a collective of artists, cultural groups and organizations. I lead a crew of volunteers in building projects both artistically and structurally at Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center.
Quiroz has co-organized community events and festivals throughout the Twin Cities with the emphasis in working with members of the Latino community, including: Mexica New Year Festival, Immigration Workshops, District del Sol’s Cinco de Mayo Parade and various Mexican Independence Day events. Other recent works include: Cultural Exchange Lecture and presentation with Texas Tech University (2017), St. Thomas University (2017), Minneapolis College of Art and Design (2016), Drake University and Normandale College (2014). Student Creativity Festival (2012), Flint Hills International Children’s Festival (2008-present) and Young Writers and Artists Conference (2010).
So many in our community refer to you as “Maestro Cenoch” — tell us a little bit more about what that means to you and why it is important?
Cenoch is my Nahuatl name which means First Cactus given to me on my Trecena ceremony when I turned 26. Like the cactus on the Mexican Flag, the foundation of Tenochtitlan is where my name comes from. It is a metaphoric representation of the responsibility I have in building a foundation for my community and people through ancestral teachings. Maestro Cenoch is what students and members of Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli refer to me as when I teach danza classes.
You are a leader that you empower youth to express themselves through art and organizing — how do you do that and how have you seen it impacting our youth?
All I can do is share what I know and to lead by example as best as I can. I involve youth in any projects we have going on at Indigenous Roots and for the young people that want to reconnect with their ancestral roots, the doors are always open for them to learn with me.
Why do you think the work of LatinoLEAD is important for our community now?
It is good to see LatinoLEAD take leadership in connecting all the amazing hard work that is happening in the Latinx community here in the Twin Cities and Minnesota. There is a lot of good work happening and it is important that we are able to share our own stories and not wait for others to tell it for ourselves.