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Raices’ makes history of its own

Christie Bolsen | Thursday, March 31, 2005

At 15 years old, Latin Expressions is not going through a rebellious adolescent phase – this year it is going back to its roots.The name of the 15th annual show is “Raices,” which translates into “roots.” Friday night, the acts that take the stage will pay homage to the past, where each Latin Expressions was an exciting display of multicultural talent, as well as bring new flavor in showcasing Latino culture at Notre Dame.Senior April Garcia, who was assistant director her freshman and sophomore year and has been director the past two years, said that the caliber of the acts this year’s is the highest she has ever seen. With so many talented singers and dancers auditioning for a chance to perform it made the selection process overwhelming and difficult, but she said that all of the chosen acts are exciting for different reasons.One of her favorite acts will be Machetes, a traditional dance from the state of Jalisco that will be performed by Ballet Folklorico with actual machetes. It’s a dance that has been tossed around in the past as a potential act, but hasn’t been executed for the show until this year. It features very real 18-inch knives and a lot of teamwork and trust.”It’s an amazing thing to watch them do,” Garcia said. “I don’t think there’s any other act in the show that’s so based on teamwork. It’s like you’re so worried about your partner – you don’t want to slice off your own hand, but you don’t want to slice off your partner’s either.”Another act, Dale con Todo, will highlight the diversity in the production. This dance features couples dancing with a Puerto Rican influence, with traditional costumes as well as modern ones. Since there have been sentiments in the past that the show is too focused on Mexican culture, Garcia was glad that such an impressive dance group was able to influence the branching out of Latin Expressions.The inclusion of Project Fresh is also likely to generate enthusiasm, since this new group has been a crowd favorite since its recent inception. The group does hip-hop, b-boy, popping and more, offering to bring in a Latin influence for this show’s dynamic.”Being their first year in existence, they’ve been able to make a name for themselves pretty quickly,” said Garcia. The last act of the show – another innovative addition – is a Selena medley, which honors the Tejano singer who was killed 10 years ago on March 31, 1995. The show features Yadira Huerta (singer and the show’s assistant director), Antonio Rivas (lead electric guitar), Luis Silva (electric bass), Lukas Mendoza (drums), Alfredo Tuesta (percussion) and Elizabeth Robles (keyboard). The group of sophomores, who have never played together before, will perform a medley of Selena’s songs.”For a lot of people, and even me personally, she was the person who really encouraged me to dance and to sing in Spanish and to figure out what she was saying in Spanish,” Garcia said of the slain bilingual star. “It’s one of the best acts I’ve seen in my time here – hands down. We want people to be standing up and singing and dancing by the time they leave.”This year’s Latin Expressions will be like no other before it. Dennis Bonilla, producer, said that this is his fifth show since he went to one his senior year of high school during a visit. He said that the production has come a long way since the show he saw in high school because it is more diverse in the Latino community.”It’s my final year, and I feel that we’ve finally come up with a show that’s fully diverse and encompasses something for everyone – dance, song, poetry,” Bonilla said. “It’s just a change of pace; it’s very entertaining and artistic but at the same time there’s meaning behind it.”The vibe of this year’s colorful collection of performances will be different than in years past for other reasons, including the fact that the venue at Palais Royale has never been used for Latin Expressions before. The set-up and the types of acts will also lend to the new feel to the show.”We hope that the audience understands why we’re doing it,” Garcia said. “We really want to show big appreciation to the past 15 years and all the work and ideas that people put into it.”Bonilla said that one of the most positive aspects of Latin Expressions is that it is a learning experience. Audience members have the opportunity to learn about personal views and opinions as well as where different people come from, but it is not like being taught because it is enjoyable.”We feel we do a good job of expressing ourselves and the community, but we don’t limit anyone because the audience is of all races,” Bonilla said.While the show is multicultural in nature, Garcia expressed the same view that it was meant to appeal to all people of all ethnicities, not just those participating. “It’s a good time to see the person who sits next to you in class, their secret talent. Whether it be the amazing poet that you never knew existed, or the phenomenal dancer, or the knock-your-socks-off singer that you never knew, and to see a culture expressed that way … I almost feel like it’s a big party,” Garcia said.Garcia said that the point of putting on the show during Spring Visitation weekend was not to mislead prospective students into thinking Notre Dame is more diverse than it is, but to show that culture does exist on campus.”Notre Dame isn’t like this every weekend, but I think it’s important to show what we are capable of,” Garcia said. “And what is available to them here … you come to Spring Vis., you go to Latin Expressions and you might think, I like to dance like that too, or I like that kind of music, or I love that song – I think that’s really important.”Latin Expressions 2005, “Raices,” is sold out and will be on Friday at 7 p.m. For those that need transportation to Palais Royale, buses start running at 6 p.m. at Library Circle.