3-Minute Interview: Dance company founder Maru Montero

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Local,Entertainment,People,Eric P. Newcomer

Montero is the founder of Maru Montero Dance Company, which is organizing a free Cinco de Mayo Festival on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. On the National Mall between Eighth and 12th streets near the Smithsonian Metro station, the event is being billed as "Latin America's Family Reunion," with music, dancing, pinatas and art exhibits.

What's happening?

Every year it's a free event for the whole family. Arts and crafts for the whole family. We have Eileen Torres with the salsa dancers. When they finish, the next band is ready, and boom -- the band is playing. We stop, we teach the crowd a little bit about what salsa is all about. It's constantly like that, and we have five bands. We always try to do collaborations with the musicians and the other dance companies, as well.

We represent as many cultures as we can. It's 100 percent cultural. It's not commercial. That's one of the things we're proud about.

What cultures will be represented?

We try to represent the Aztecs, and we have some people coming from Guatemala and representing the Mayans. There's a lot of fusion. It makes it more interesting.

What's there to eat?

There's going to be Mexican food, and there's also stands from the National Park Service. Everyone is welcome to bring their own picnic.

What can people do there?

We'll have dance contests. It could be formal, it could be informal. It depends what kind of crowd we have. Sometimes we have gift cards for Target. We give out hats because the hats are popular.

How many people will be there?

Last year [I] think that we had 15,000.

What makes this event family-friendly?

There is no alcohol. We want it to be healthy in all of the positive ways. We wanted to make it more about the family more than anything. A whole family event at the mall. Bring your blanket. Bring your hat. Bring your family. Stay.

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