Culture Comes Alive at Cala!

2019 Good Deeds John Chalmers July 2019

By John Chalmers  on the July 2019 Edition

Mexican culture, costumes, tradition and heritage are in good hands with young people of Manzanillo! That was clearly evident on March 31 when the girls and boys from Casa Hogar Los Angelitos gave a stellar performance of dance and music at the new CALA facility, now nearing completion. CALA the Centro de Artes Los Angelitos is a multi-purpose venue that was the site of the first official public performance for the Centro.

Offering an optional Mexican buffet dinner available for an appreciative crowd, in a two-hour program, the exuberant performance contributed to a very special evening. Although tickets were sold for the performance, and souvenir merchandise was available for purchase, “The primary purpose was not fund raising, but rather to gain experience in managing a regular performance event,” says Don Carstensen, a board member of The Children’s Foundation, which is the parent organization for Casa Hogar.

Nevertheless, “The market response was excellent,” says Don, “and there is much to be learned about the many on-site tasks needed in the start-up of a brand-new performance venue.” Judging from the success of the March 31 event, the future looks great for CALA.

When completed, the facility will be an asset to the larger community for public events, such as performances by the talented dancers from the Casa Hogar Los Angelitos home for disadvantaged youngsters. Plans call for the Centro to be an enclosed structure with classrooms, housing, offices and, of course, a theater. Air conditioning will contribute to suitability of the facility for year-round use.

The CALA stage was alive as the young residents of Casa Hogar, and other young people from the community, performed a series of dances in beautiful costumes. Traditional dances with lively music, swirling skirts, flashing footwork and clashing machetes all added to an enjoyable program that demonstrates the success of the home’s Expressive Arts Program.

The Program provides more than just a chance to learn music, song and dance. It teaches the discipline needed for a precision performance and rewards participants by developing their talents and self confidence. Another reward for members of the troupe has been to see cities in Canada and the United States when Casa Hogar’s Ballet Folklórico Los Angelitos has taken the show on the road, to wide acclaim, beyond the city limits of Manzanillo and the boundaries of Mexico.


Starting with the founding of Casa Hogar by Nancy Nystrom in 1995, beginning with a food program and care for abused, homeless and orphaned children, Casa Hogar today is home to over 70 girls and boys. The residence offers care in a loving environment that provides them with opportunity for education and, if they wish, a chance to participate in the arts program. From toddlers to young adults now attending university, Casa Hogar has become the only real home known by many who have grown up there.

One indication of success is that many residents have lived most of their lives at Casa Hogar and some are now university graduates. When completed, the Centro de Artes Los Angelitos will be available for rental and use by organizations wishing to stage events at the facility.

To complete all construction, including a roof in the stage area as well as stage flooring and other amenities, at least 1.2 million dollars are still needed. The end result will be a splendid addition that will provide for cultural enrichment in the Manzanillo area.

Nancy Nystrom sees great potential for the facility. “The plan for CALA’s purposes within the community includes its availability to community organizations and others seeking a performance venue, a classroom for educational purposes, short-term lodging for those participating in some form of exchange program, medical students doing their internship at the Manzanillo hospital, college students, volunteer groups, etc. The purposes may range from accommodating a professional touring dance troupe, orchestra or convention, to a small group seeking a place to meet and advance a community purpose.”

Support for Casa Hogar has been received in an annual sold-out benefit dinner, featuring a wide variety of goods and services offered in silent and live auction. An annual golf tournament, organized by the parent organization, The Children’s Foundation International (TCF) in Loveland, Colorado, is another fundraising event. To sponsor a child or to donate to the work of Casa Hogar and help to build CALA, visit the TCF web site at Your contribution helps with operations, clothing and scholarships and is an investment in the youth of Mexico that helps pave the way to success in education and life.


Don Carstensen, a volunteer member of the Board of Directors, and his wife, Peg, are seen with Artemio, center, who was raised with his brother at Casa Hogar Los Angelitos (CHLA.) Artemio is now a college graduate and returns to participate in the dance program and support the work of CHLA.


Eventually, the stage area at CALA will have a roof, but fine
weather is still great to give an outdoor performance for an
appreciative audience.










With up to 20 dancers on stage at once, the CALA theater is alive with traditional dances, performed in precision of movement and footwork, with lively music.


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