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Cinco de Mayo festival of dance, music, food, and health on National Mall May 4

The National Cinco de Mayo Festival on the Mall Sunday May 4 features the Maru Montero Dance Company performing Mexican folk dancing, salsa, mambo, tango, and other Latin American styles.
The National Cinco de Mayo Festival on the Mall Sunday May 4 features the Maru Montero Dance Company performing Mexican folk dancing, salsa, mambo, tango, and other Latin American styles.
The National Cinco de Mayo Festival features the Maru Montero Dance Company. Photo by Luis Briones of LULAC

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican folk dancing, mariachi music, piñatas, puppets, lotería (Mexican bingo) -- and learning how to fight obesity -- on the National Mall Sunday, May 4.

This year, the Maru Montero Dance Company (MMDC) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) are co-hosting the annual free National Cinco de Mayo ("Fifth of May") Festival.

MMDC will perform folk, salsa, mambo, tango, and other Latin American dances. One of the area's top Latin troupes, MMDC was founded 22 years ago by the renowned Ballet Folklórico de México's former lead dancer Maru Montero.

Click here for a video of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama introducing the Maru Montero dancers at the White House in 2011. And click here for a video of MMDC at last year's National Cinco de Mayo Festival.

Other live performances will be by A.B. Quintanilla, singer, songwriter, producer, and brother of Selena, the late "Queen of Tejano Music"; El Grupo Escalante; Bio Ritmo Salsa Band; and others.

("Neither today nor ever before has there been a salsa group quite like Bio Ritmo," says radio station WNYC. "With a roster that includes former rastas, punks, rockers, and jazzistas, Bio-Ritmo can't help but bring an exhilarating unorthodoxy to its music." Their album Puerta Del Sur (Vampisoul Records) will be released June 24.)

This year's Cinco de Mayo festival supports LULAC’s health education initiative, "Latinos Living Healthy", focusing on combating the obesity crisis in the U.S.

Healthy food options, cooking demonstrations of nutritious dishes, and a health fair with free medical screenings will be offered. The 85-year-old LULAC is the country's largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization.

Children's arts and crafts include make-your-own piñatas and dancing puppets, and play Mexican bingo to win prizes.

Cinco de Mayo, also known as the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, is Mexico's national holiday honoring its victory over Napoleon III's forces in 1862.

For more info: Cinco de Mayo Festival, May 4, noon to 6 P.M. rain or shine, National Mall between 8th and 12th Streets, S.W., Washington, D.C. Free. Maru Montero Dance Company, www.marumontero.com. League of United Latin American Citizens, www.LULAC.org.