Delta Quinceañera

Delta Quinceañera

In the rural flatlands of the Mississippi Delta, the population is much more diverse than black and white.

 

Latino immigration, difficult to track with concrete numbers, appears to be increasing in the university town of Cleveland and throughout the Delta. Weekly Spanish masses are now offered at the Catholic church in town, and it’s becoming more common to receive an invitation to a traditional holiday celebration. On and off over the past three years, I have been attending masses, joining the holiday ceremonies, and visiting with the community in their homes that are intentionally secluded outside city limits. While their presence may not be overly obvious to the community at large, the population is growing. 

In March of 2016, I was invited to document a quinceañera, the celebration of a girl’s fifteenth birthday. The event, common throughout Latin America, marks the transition from childhood to womanhood. I documented the event from the outside looking in, not interfering with the event photographer hired by the family. A mass was held in the young woman’s honor, followed by a grand dance party and a meal of tacos at the local Army National Guard Armory. 

The event, common throughout Latin America, marks the transition from childhood to womanhood. 

The Quinceañera poses for portraits following her celebratory mass.

 

(L) Family, friends and the Court of Honor Arrive at the Army National Guard Armory in Cleveland. (R) Also traditional in some regions is the ceremony of the last doll, which is donned in a dress similar to the Quinceañera. The doll is presented to her by her father.

 

Hundreds of attendees arrived to watch the traditional choreographed dances and enjoy the sounds of home performed by a hired Norteño band. The party went on through the late hours of the night. Documenting the Latino immigrant experience here has become increasingly important due to the changing political atmosphere, and I will continue to make efforts to connect with the community.

 

Attendees arrive from across the Delta and beyond to enjoy the dinner and a night of dancing, drinking and music.

A member of the Court of Honor waits for the formal dance to begin.

The first adults take to the dance floor, thus begin a long night of dancing and fellowship

 
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    Attendees come dressed for the dance in botas, vaqueras and sombreros.

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    The Quinceañera poses for portraits with family and friends at the beginning of her dance ceremony.

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    The Court of Honor honors the Quinceañera.

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    The Quinceañera is crowned and lifted to symbolizing her transition to young adulthood.

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    Attendees arrive from across the Delta and beyond to enjoy the dinner and a night of dancing, drinking and music.

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    A light show begins moments before a Norteño band begins the dance open to adults.

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    An accordion player in the band performs a sound check.

 

The Quinceañera's first pair of high heels lie next to the dance floor after hours of dancing.

To see more work by photographer Rory Doyle, go to www.rorydoylephoto.com @rorydoylephoto

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Rory Doyle

Rory Doyle

Rory Doyle (USA, 1983) is a working photographer based in Cleveland, Mississippi — the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Doyle’s editorial work highlights populations in the region that are often unnoticed or underserved. Recent projects include documentation of African-American Delta cowboys, and the growing Latino population in an area most known for its black and white history.

Full-time, he is a university photographer, providing marketing imagery for Delta State University. Additionally, he works for a number of editorial and commercial clients. Doyle’s publication list includes The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, ESPN’s The Undefeated, Bitter Southerner, Getty Images, Vox Media and Financial Times.