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Latin Expressions lights up weekend

Observer Scene | Monday, April 4, 2005

In a sold-out performance that almost shook down the chandeliers in Palais Royale, Latin Expressions let everyone celebrate all that is Latino in an absolute revelry of a show on Friday night.

The 15th annual show had too many highlights to count, with each act impressing the rowdy audience for a different reason. The Masters of Ceremonies, Fred Licón and Nicole Orozco, elicited riotous response from the crowd throughout the night by cracking well-placed ethnic jokes.

“This is not your standard variety show,” Licón said.

“This is a Latino show,” Orozco said, to a round of cheers.

They did suggest to the audience not to throw their “chones” up on stage, telling people if they didn’t know what “chones” were to ask the person next to them.

After kicking off with dancing and singing acts, the First Class Lady Steppers switched gears when they took the stage with an attitude that permeated their fabulous performance. After shouting to “watch us do it now,” they stomped, clapped and danced away a seductive routine.

Lyons sophomore Gabby Obregon’s “Tanguillos” stood out spectacularly in a night full of standout acts. Wearing a brilliantly colored dress, she smiled her way through a solo dance with confidence. Her feet were a flurry of movement while her arms were smoothly graceful, as she spun around and flourished her ruffled skirt.

“Fuego,” with Tessa Garcia, Natalia Muñoz and Grisel Ruiz, lit up the stage with a fiery, sparkly dance number featuring colored ribbons, shoulder shimmying and hip shaking energy. Their talents meshed perfectly in their performance, in a riveting number with plenty of sultry moves and raucous cheers coming from the other performers waiting on the upper balcony.

Without a doubt, though, it was “Machetes” by Ballet Folklorico Azul y Oro that stole Act I and possibly the entire night. With collars open and bandannas tied around their heads, a stage full of very brave men danced among flashes of huge, gleaming knives that they wielded easily in their hands for a nervous audience. Weapons flying high and spectators tensing, they tossed and swished away calmly. Gasps resounded when they suddenly shouted, “Blindfold!” and pulled their bandannas down over their eyes, continuing with the pace turned up a few notches. It was a magnificent display of skill and hotness.

Act II featured powerful poetry and more talented performances. As expected, Project Fresh was a refreshing blast of the unexpected that can only be described as cool. It was innovative, even humorous, and combined raw street moves with polished talent. Their stage presence was like a spontaneous party had broken out onstage and everyone was invited to share in the fun.

The Selena Act began with a dramatic recreation of the movie scene where the kids are playing around instead of practicing seriously, until their father chastises them into putting their talent to use. Yadira Huerta, wearing a slinky Selena-like outfit, was dead-on in her singing, with her powerful, gorgeous voice bringing the singer’s hits back to life in renditions of songs like, “I Could Fall in Love.” This prompted the balcony spectators to whip out their lighted cell phones and wave them slowly from side to side.

Performers from throughout the night danced through the aisles to pull up audience members as the Selena tribute brightly picked up the tempo. Soon, the exuberant venue was as bumping and crowded as a party in a little South Quad dorm room. The last act of the show captured the spirit of the evening in that dancing – fun, diverse and proud of it.