Carnaval San Francisco group La Cumbiamba Colombiana features performers using dance as healing therapy
SAN MATEO -- This year's Carnaval San Francisco parade will feature a special group of survivors from the Bay Area, finding healing and inspiration through movement and music.
At a recent rehearsal, dancers are heard exclaiming "Wepa!" as an act of joy and celebration, and Jeannette Ramirez has much to celebrate. She fought breast cancer and won, and comes to cumbia music for the sounds of healing and to celebrate the joys of the life she fought for.
"The minute you put on the skirt, it happens, the music happens, and you start twirling and feeling that Colombian music, you just wanna dance, and you feel pretty, and you feel alive," said Jeanette Ramirez, a member of La Cumbiamba Colombiana.
We spent time with Ramirez at Fiesta Gardens International School where she works as a principal, but it's on Sundays when she truly comes alive.
As a member of La Cumbiamba Colombiana, a Colombian dance group rehearsing for Carnaval San Francisco, she finds healing and hope through dance.
"When you're facing cancer and when you're facing any illness like that, you have to remember the beautiful things about dance and the beautiful things you do in life because that's what heals you," Ramirez said.
As the group rehearses for the upcoming Carnaval, this year's slogan, "A tribute to life," holds a special meaning for Ramirez and the other survivors in the group.
"It gives you life. It gives you back that energy you need, just to share with others...life is precious, and we must remember to live every moment," she explained.
And she does, she celebrates life. Every time she dances, she remembers those days when her dreams to come back to the dance floor, to the streets of San Francisco, kept her alive, fighting for another chance to keep dancing.
Their instructor, Cheo Gomez, enhances that energy, helping to unite cultures and release stress through music and dancing.
"I feel grateful for being able to contribute to their mental and physical health," Gomez said.
For Ramirez, dance has been a powerful force in her journey of healing and overcoming cancer. Through the beats of cumbia, she celebrates life and inspires others to do the same. And as the music continues to play, we can't help but feel the same sense of joy and hope that she does.
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