For Lisbeth Hickey as a child, summer time meant a four-hour sojourn to the small Colombian town of Natagaima, where her maternal grandparents lived and farmed. There she watched her cousins practice folkloric dances in preparation for the grand Feast of San Juan, a farming festival dating back to colonial times , with music, fireworks, folkloric dancing, horse riding teams, and traditional foods such as tamales, sancocho, and lechona. “I spent summer afternoons with my cousin Marcela during her practices as a little child. I always had the desire to dance like her, “said Lisbeth. “The beauty of dancing has been passed down from generation to generation in my family,” she said.
Lisbeth is now passing the beauty and passion of folkloric Latin dancing to a new generation on a new continent in another small town (Pittsboro) more than 2,000 miles north of Natagaima. She has teamed up with other dancers and musicians in the Triangle “to share our Latin American culture with the general population and also to keep our roots in the United States.”
Her group, Takiri Academy, serves up a variety of spicy traditional dances including Bambuco, Joropo, Cumbia, Jarabe Tapatio, Puya, and Porro. “Each Latin Country has different types of dances depending on their heritage and the geographic region,” Lisbeth explained. They perform at festivals, schools and other events throughout the Triangle, including at the International Festival in Raleigh and the Apex Latino Arts Festival.
Children of all ages and adults can also take a class in folkloric Latin dancing at Barriskill Dance Theater School in Durham.
And you can feast on a local performance by Lisbeth and Takiri Academy at the upcoming ClydeFEST in Bynum on May 2 at 2 p.m. ClydeFEST has been described as “a family-friendly day of hands-on, super-fun, holler-out-loud arts immersion.”
When Lisbeth isn’t dancing, you might find her teaching Spanish to young children, working toward her degree in teaching, spending time with her family and friends, creating pottery, or riding her bicycle.
From the Artist
Full name: Lisbeth Tengono Hickey
I currently reside: in Pittsboro, NC
I am originally from: Bogota, Colombia
I dance because: I can vividly remember early memories of my childhood dancing with my cousins. The beauty of dancing has been a part of my family generation after generation. Folkloric Latin dance brings me joy, peace and happiness.
I came to Pittsboro because: We fell in love with this unique town. My husband had a job opportunity at UNC Hospital. Our home reminds me of the houses in the coffee zone in Colombia where they have wrap-around porches.
Most people don’t know I: teach Spanish in a dual language program in Chatham County. I graduated in Physical Therapy at The Institucion Universitaria Escuela Columbiana. I also graduated from Central Carolina Community College, and actually I’m taking teaching classes at Fayetteville State University. I’m a Mormon. I like photography and I practice pottery. I love to cook different recipes and ride my bike. My husband works at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. My daughter is a junior at Northwood High School. I was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to the United States in 2002. I have lived in California, Minnesota, Utah, and Florida.
Five things I wouldn’t want to live without: tropical fruits, music, whiteboard markers, and my smart phone.
I’m most proud of: the life I have built with my family and who my daughter has become.
My favorite spot in Chatham County: my back porch during the middle of spring. I love to see the woods.
My perfect day: Wow, this is a deep question. For me, a perfect day will be a balanced, productive, and healthy day. For example: spend quality time with people that I care about and my pets, work with my kindergarten students effectively, help a sister from my church, have a 100 in my project at the University, and practice my dance choreography.
One of my strongest childhood memories: spending time with my grandfather on summer evenings listening to his farmer histories. He used to sit in front of his house after a long day of hard work on his farms.
The best piece of advice I’ve (been) given: Telling my husband to sell the house in Florida and move to North Carolina. We love this beautiful state.
Five words that describe me: extrovert, crafty, enthusiastic, patient, and positive.
A few Chatham County artists I admire: the costumes, sewing designs, and drawings of Valentina Moreno Tengono, the pottery of Mark Hewitt, the graphic designs of Lesley Landis, the music of Tommy Edwards, and the wood art of Clyde Jones.
Ten years from now I will be: I really don’t know. Life is a journey, and I have taken big risks and changes in my life. I wouldn’t be surprised to make another radical change.