Nubia Pomar still has vivid memories of the time when nearly lost her life during the Nicaragua revolution in the late 1970s.
Pomar was caught in the violent uprising by the opposition to the Somoza dictatorship led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front. Many lost their lives. At the time, she was an official involved arts and education in the Somozan government.
When the Sandinistas came, “they wanted to kill us,” she recalls. “But we were able to escape.”
She gives thanks to God and San Sabastian, the patron saint of the city of Diriamba, for keeping her safe.
And she made a promise to San Sabastian: She would teach folkloric dancing to young girls.
“I do it because it is my devotion,” said Pomar, 85, now living in Westchester. “I promised to display my humility.”
She arrived in the United States in 1979 and became a social worker in Miami.
She also kept her promise and started teaching traditional folkloric dances that she brought with her from the city of Diriamba. In 1999, she started teaching the dances more often.
Her students are local girls who make up the Ballet Folklorica San Sebastian Nicaragua. The students can be as young as 5.
“The dancing is from our predecessors. People learned from it by word of mouth,” she said.
The ballet group, made up of young Nicaraguans and one person from Honduras, performs often at cultural and religious events by request.
Pomar provides mostly everything, including the group’s colorful attire.
“They come and they naturally train,” she said. “They don't get bored.”
The free classes in her home are held weekly for about two hours. The dances, some of which are more than 300 years old, have become a tradition handed down through generations in her family. Each dance tells a story and honors the patron saint during a festival in January.
Amelcar Urroz has started bringing his 8-year-old daughter Camilla to train with Pomar, and he is proud she is learning about his homeland’s culture and traditions.
“It is something that grabbed my attention,” he said. “I want her to learn of her roots. She already dances ballet naturally. It is a blessing for her to learn.”
Camilla says she finds it challenging, but fun. “It's hard to learn how to use the feet,” she said.
Pomar now is passing the torch to her daughter Lucia Alvarado and granddaughter Aaliyah Alvarado, 18.
“The fact that I can impact other little girls like I was impacted feels wonderful,” Aaliyah said. “I know when they grow older, they will feel great love” for the dance: “It’s always best to know your roots.”
For information in Spanish about joining the group, call 786-273-5480.