Day of the Dead/ Dia de los Muertos

2014- 2017.
Easthampton MA

A series of events rooted in a Mexican tradition that celebrates life, wrestles with death, and honors the souls of the departed. Easthampton, in partnership with Holyoke, hosted workshops, a film screening, a panel discussion and performances.

Events included:
Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Day of the Dead in Context; Roots, Ritual and Reinvention

Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition that goes back to prehispanic cultures. It has evolved through time and place to reflect the particular needs of the people who enact it. We will show Noche de Altares, a 30 min film by local filmmaker Jim Ault  and a excerpt of Many Bones, One Heart, about Day of the Dead in Tucson, Arizona. The vision is to stimulate a discussion of the role of tradition and ritual in a contemporary context. Panelists include: Jim Ault, sociologist and filmmaker, Michelle Marroquín, dancer/choreographer, Iohann Rashi Vega, Media Producer & Educator, and longtime activist Sylvia Galván.

Love Notes to the Dead

Facilitated by Carolyn Cushing, this gathering is a supportive space to hold both our love and grief as we write love notes to someone who has passed away. Prompts/inspirations for getting started and materials are provided. No need to be a writer, follow a particular tradition, or hold a certain belief about the afterlife. Please bring a picture of your beloved dead who you wish to write to. Preregistration for this workshop encouraged.  To reserve a spot email:

Garden of Souls Interactive Art Installation

Embellished portraits and meaningful objects will be placed around the two large pine trees at the foot of the cemetery.  Love Notes to the Dead will be read, as participants recite the names of loved ones. Music, words and remembrances will be shared.

Performances by the Pond

You will be received by narrator Iohann Rashi Vega and the live music of Pan Morigan and Tony Silva, as they set the stage for a series of encounters with dancers, poets and puppets.

Explanation of Traditional Ofrenda

Sylvia Galván, respected elder of the Mexican community, will lead us through the placement of symbolic offerings on a traditional altar for the Dead. This community Ofrenda has its historical roots in prehispanic America. Music by Tony Silva and Pan Morigan will continue at La Casita.



Michelle Marroquin, founding organizer of Easthampton’s Day of the Dead, has partnered with Easthampton City Arts to reach beyond the Easthampton community and involve a wider range of individuals and organizations. Michelle is a performance artist with training in ballet, modern dance, Mexican folk dance, and Odissi Classical Indian dance. Raised in Mexico City but based in New York City for many years, she relocated to the Pioneer Valley in 2003. Performing with her at this year’s Day of the Dead are dancers Katelyn Cramer & Marya Moylan

Easthampton City Arts is an organization that creates positive, innovative, and accessible arts programming and cultural events to generate and increase opportunities for artists and the local economy. Easthampton City Arts is located in Easthampton, MA.

Tony Silva is an Easthampton-based composer and musician who performs in restaurants, galleries, traditional theaters and festivals. He is also a skilled artist and the builder/maker of the large papier mâché puppet La Catrina.

Singer/musician Pan Morigan has been involved with Day of the Dead since its inception. She is an award-winning vocalist, composer, poet, producer, and the music director of Chrysalis Theatre, a locally based cross cultural performance ensemble.

Easthampton Media is providing access to their brand-new 50-seat theater, use of their equipment, staffing, and promotion for the film screening & panel discussion on Saturday, November 4th.

Eastworks is celebrating its 20th year anniversary at their Open Studios Event this weekend, and offering studio space for the Crafts Workshops on Saturday, November 4th.

Wistariahurst Museum, a historic site in Holyoke, is hosting an exhibit about Day of the Dead, providing educational materials, a space for a community Ofrenda, and staffing for the Youth Crafts Workshop.

Caravan Puppets, comprised of Jonathan Keezing and Karen Schumer, will be part of Performances by the Pond on Sunday, November 5th.

Sylvia Galván and members of La Casita Azteca have been involved as creative collaborators and sponsors for many years. La Casita Azteca hosts the installation the Ofrenda, and will offer traditional hot ponche during the music performance in their garden.

Click below to see Easthampton Media‘s 10 minute documentary of the 2014 event:


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