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La Alianza’s Latinacion highlights Latin culture

Tae Andrews | Monday, April 3, 2006

Bailamos! On Friday night, University student organization La Alianza held Latinacion, its annual Latin Expressions cultural show. Held at the O’Laughlin Auditorium at Saint Mary’s, the show was the 16th performance of the event celebrating traditional and current Latin-American culture.

After an opening act featuring both bomba and salsa-style dancing, the show continued with Rock LatinoAmericano, performed by Tiara Torres y Mauricio Ormachea.

Dance performances were such a prevalent staple of the show that many in attendance might have wondered if the Notre Dame students involved should have changed their collective moniker to the “Dancin’ Irish,” instead of the conventional “Fightin’ Irish.”

Perhaps the most powerful act of the first half was “Dear Statue of Liberty,” a moving tribute that featured the performance of a piece of slam poetry by Elias J. Moo. In his poem, Moo provides a sense of social consciousness on the plight of illegal alien immigrants of Mexican descent currently residing in the United States. Moo implores America to remember the words engraved on the Statue of Liberty – “Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to live free.”

The performance lived up to show’s billing as Latinacion, when a host of other Latin-American Notre Dame students joined Moo at the conclusion of the poem in a gesture of solidarity for their Latin brethren.

Las Encantadoras continued the evening’s festivities with “Fuera de Liga,” followed by “Alabanzas,” a performance by Coro Primavera de Nuestra Senora. Act One was rounded out by “Danza de los Concheros,” a performance by Ballet Folklorico Azul y Oro.

Following the dance act, the Julian Zamora Scholarship Award, given to a faculty member who played a substantial role in the Latino community on campus, was given to Father Daniel Groody, theology professor and director of the Institute for Latino Studies. He graciously accepted the honor and humorously suggested that, should the percentage of Notre Dame students of Latin descent continue to rise, the school’s moniker might one day become the “Fighting Latinos” in addition to the Fighting Irish.

The end of the first act saw “El Cascabel,” a traditional mariachi musical performance by the eponymous music group Mariachi ND.

After a brief intermission, Latinacion picked up right where it left off with another talented performance by Mariachi ND. Following this, the Julian Zamora Scholarship Award was presented to Elias Moo and Alfredo Tuesta.

The next events included another performance by Ballet Folklorico Azul y Oro entitled, “Pelea de los Gallos,” and “Carmen de Bolivar,” a performance by El Tremendo Guandu.

The show took a turn for the modern with “Pop Identities of Latin America,” a celebration of the modern sensation of reggaeton music sweeping Latin America.

Latinacion then followed with “Sweat,” a performance featuring bowler hats, suspenders and canes worn by the First Class Lady Steppers.

After “Mi Reflejo,” a song performed by Francesca Jiminez, “An Irish Tail” was performed by the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s Irish Dance team. In keeping with the evening’s theme, the group performed its traditional Irish jig with a twist – instead of the more traditional Irish music jig/step music, the troupe performed to a thumping reggaeton beat.

The evening also showcased the vocal talents of Yadira Huerta, who, in addition to singing, coordinated the event with Sabrina Placeres.

The second act of the show featured the first-ever Mr. and Mrs. Reggaeton ND competition, in which contestants vied fiercely for the titles of “papi chulo” and “mami chula” to raucous applause from the audience. The competition tested the competitors’ knowledge of reggaeton artists, ability to speak rapid-fire Spanish, and, of course, ability to put it in reverse and back it up on the dance floor. In the end, Chris Liedl and Emma Pineda were the ones left standing after the smoke cleared, and they won the inaugural title.

Throughout the evening, the show was seasoned by the comedic antics of the show’s emcee triple team – Rosa Lopez, Dmitri Martinez and Michelle Mas. At one point, the three staged a skit in which they held mock auditions for the show. The three-headed monster acting as Master of Ceremonies rotated between playing colorful would-be Latin Expressions hopefuls and giving out brutally honest “constructive criticism” worthy of talent judge Simon Cowell on the television program American Idol.

After “Tango y Paso Doble,” performed by Pasion Ardiente, the show concluded with a Shakira mix for its closing act.

“Latin Expressions is a wonderful glimpse into the beauty that Latin American cultures have to offer,” said Vanessa Quezada, La Alianza vice president. “For the Latino students specifically, it gives us great pride to share with the rest of the Notre Dame family the richness of these countries which we call home. It is an embracing event, not just for the Latinos of Notre Dame, but for all students who understand the true value of one’s roots.”