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Stories | 01 September 2022

Culture Near You: Pablo Rojas at Venezuelan Roots Dance Group

Venezuelan Roots dancers in traditional costume

Venezuelan Roots dancers in traditional costume

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Culture Near You is an online map of culture in Dublin. We’re constantly adding to this cultural map so we get to meet lots of the great people featured, and we thought you might like to meet them too!

For this blog series, we’re meeting the makers, the movers and shakers, the partakers, and the doers of the map - to find out more about what they do in the city. You can find out more about Culture Near You and how to get involved here.

In May we spoke with Pablo Rojas, the director of the Venezuelan Roots Dance Group. In this blog he shares with us how their group promotes Vensuelan culture and spirit in Ireland, the country that represents their second home.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what you do?

My name is Pablo Rojas, I am from Venezuela and I’ve been living here in Ireland for almost nine years. Like the rest of the members of our group, I’m a volunteer and I have the responsibility of promoting our culture through our dance.

Part of my role as director is trying to keep the group together, motivate them to keep going, and make this group a happy place to be.

I’m also in charge of organising the rehearsals. I’m the first contact for the people/organisations who would like to do a performance and I am always on the lookout for new things we can be a part of.

My vision as the director of Venezuelan Roots is to promote our culture and bring a little bit of the good things Venezuela has to offer to this country. I want us to integrate into the Irish society in a way where everybody feels happy to watch our dances.

Before the pandemic started we used to be in many festivals and activities and it was a great pleasure when people recognised us and when they were happy to be expecting “The Venezuelans”. That’s our goal - we want to bring joy and happiness by showing our traditional dances.

My favourite thing about our culture, beside our traditional dances, is our people

How did the Venezuelan Roots Dance Group come about, and how long has it been running?

Venezuelan Roots was born in 2017 as a cultural part of the Venezuelan Community in Ireland - the first Latin American charity in Ireland. One of the purposes is the integration of Venezuelan Community in Ireland, the country that represents our second home.

Venezuelan Roots wants to share all our culture and spirit in Ireland, with the Irish and also with people from different countries living here. We would love to give our Venezuelan tradition and legacy to our Irish kids. We’d like to keep our roots and integrate nations through the dance. That’s what we do in Venezuelan Roots.

How often does the group rehearse or perform?

At the moment our rehearsals are Saturday morning in one of our dancers houses. Every now and then, we rent a studio to practice. As we are all volunteers, we cannot afford to have a permanent studio to rehearse at the moment.

Could you describe Venezuelan dance for anyone who might be unfamiliar with it?

Venezuelan Dance is a mix and a compound of many cultures. I see it as the perfect combination of the European, African, and indigenous cultures. Venezuelan Dance is more than dance - we are spirit, resilience and happiness. Over everything, it is the feeling of a beautiful country with its places, food, traditions, and amazing people.

Do you have any stand out or favourite moments from your time with Venezuelan Roots?

Without hesitation I would say the most iconic performance I've experienced with Venezuelan Roots is our participation in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2022. This was a unique and amazing experience - being able to run through the Dublin Streets dancing our traditional music with our traditional clothes. It was the first time in history that we had such representation in this country, and we all felt proud of this historic moment. Also, because we went viral in Venezuela, our people were very happy that we were in this parade.

What’s your favourite thing about Venezuelan culture?

My favourite thing about our culture beside our traditional dances is our people. From childhood, we learn how to be friendly and integrate into every group. Wherever you meet a Venezuelan person you’ll see this person is always smiling and always willing to help, and that’s because our culture make us this way - to be always positive and with a great attitude.

What’s your favourite thing to do in Dublin?

I have two favourite things to do here in Dublin, one is running in Memorial Park, because it has a nice long road beside the river where you can run 3km and enjoy nature. There is also a great view where I always rest after my run and I can see all the huge trees in the park and even beyond. That’s without a doubt my favourite spot in the city because being there connecting with nature gives me so much peace and happiness.

The second thing I like to do is cycle around the city on a Sunday morning, when there are not many cars or people around, because you can really appreciate the beauty of this city with all the buildings and landscapes. It is just incredible to stop yourself and deeply appreciate what you have.

What are you most looking forward to at Venezuelan Roots in the coming weeks and months?

I’m most looking forward to the summer because usually in this time we have many presentations and that’s something we love to do. We have a great project in mind that hopefully it's going to become true and it is to bring Venezuelan Roots to the theatre.

If someone would like to get involved with Venezuelan Roots, how can they do that?

They just have to contact us, through our Instagram or Facebook.