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Latin Expressions: A Fantastic Night of Fantasy

Tatiana Spragins | Monday, March 29, 2010

The 20th annual Latin Expressions event celebrates Latino culture and heritage at Notre Dame, and this year’s event was themed “Noche de Fantasia” — or “night of fantasy.”
With dark and mysterious posters and beautiful masks covering the faces of those greeting us at the entrance, the one-night-only performance at South Bend’s Palais Royale was packed as usual. The venue fit well with the theme, and the huge, beautiful chandelier that hung from the ceiling, surrounded by gilded frames and designs, helped to set the air for the show.
Composed mostly of typical Latin dances and music, this year’s Latin Expressions seemed to focus less on traditions from different Latin countries and more on creating a dance show. Beginning with an outstanding, goose bumps worthy Opera performance by senior Josh Diaz, the show went on with several different dance performances choreographed and completely organized by the very students doing the dance (who had to rehearse and audition to make it to the show) and some musical acts, sung and played also by the students. For the dance performances, the groups normally danced to a mix of salsa with contemporary Latin music (namely reggaeton), or if it were only one couple on stage, they would generally perform to a more traditional song. All acts were exciting and well performed, packed with tons of quick and sexy flips and twirls and outfits that continued the fantastical theme of the night. Another interesting and characterizing aspect of the performances was that they normally had some sort of a plot, which added to the fun of the show. For example, the formula of girl sees boy with other girl, girl gets mad and boy tries to win her back was used in one of the fun, sexy and exciting Latin Expressions dance acts.
The first act, although organized quite differently from last year’s show, was fun and very true to its purpose — to represent and honor the Latin community at Notre Dame and in South Bend. With a variety of performances, from a Folkloric dance to Opera, the act to follow lessened the impact of this unique event.
Of the eight groups to present, only three portrayed some aspect of the Latin culture. Project Fresh and the First Class Steppers constituted a significant portion of the second half, and although these groups are always jaw dropping and fun to watch, their performances weren’t pertinent enough to the purpose of the show for the time it was given. Other performances, such as one musical performance that did not pertain to Latin culture and a magic show may have been highly entertaining and amusing – but were not very relevant. The focus on the Latin culture seen in the first act was lost after the intermission.
There were many aspects of the event that differed from last year’s Latin Expressions and made a significant difference in this year’s performance. One such aspect was the division of the acts by specific cultures and countries. Although some were evidently specific to a particular culture (for example, “Al son de Mexico” [to the sound of Mexico] by MariachiND), most of the acts were not, or at least were not made specific in the program.
An interesting part of the show, as for most cultural events here at Notre Dame, was learning the differences between each different country by watching people either sing or dance to a typical song or dance of that place. For example, in Asian Allure, each performance was introduced by its name and country of origin. Although this may not be as easy to differentiate in Latin America as in Asia, some slight distinction or an effort to highlight traditional cultural songs or dances from a specific region would have made for a more comprehensive show.
Nonetheless, the show was evidently rehearsed many times because it all flowed smoothly. The dances were very well executed and the singers were wonderful. On top of this, the two people who walked on stage in between most acts were packed with clever jokes, which got plenty of laughs from the crowd. So if you didn’t make it this year, don’t forget to make it next time. It’s definitely not a show to be missed.