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"Paso Nuevo" Brings New Audiences To D.C. Theatres

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The young people of "Paso Nuevo," performing "La Catorce" this week at GALA Hispanic Theatre in DC's Columbia Heights neighborhood.
GALA Hispanic Theatre
The young people of "Paso Nuevo," performing "La Catorce" this week at GALA Hispanic Theatre in DC's Columbia Heights neighborhood.

By Stephanie Kaye

A group of teens in Columbia Heights is bringing their stories to the stage and attracting a new audience to D.C. theaters.

Their group is called Paso Nuevo, or "New Step." And although it's run by a couple of adults, the stories are written and performed by local teenagers, like 15-year-old Rosemary Solorzano. Her story deals with a girl whose family can't afford a "quinces" party, a rite of passage celebrated in Latino communities.

"She gets into prostitution to get it; but I won't do that," says Solorzano. "I wouldn't get into prostitution to get my quinces!"

Quique Aviles directs Paso Nuevo. He considers it a successm "when I see Salvadorean peasants that barely speak English and have never been to the theater come to see their cousins and their kids."

He likes shining a positive light on the young people in Columbia Heights.

"We tend to think of our young people as these violent beasts when, in reality, they have a tremendous sense of beauty and caring," he says.

The group's latest production, "La Catorce," highlights life on 14th street in Northwest D.C., with performances tonight and Sunday at Gala Hispanic Theater.

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