On Tuesday night, students from Miami Dade College came together as part of Hispanic Heritage month to perform Latin American dances and explain their heritages.
Around 20 people attended the event, held on the Kendall campus.
“One Endless Voice,” a show presented by MDC Kendall Dance and the Jubilation Dance Ensemble, took place at the McCarthy Theater where Cuban Cha-Cha, Conga and Puerto Rican Bomba were the main focuses.
Speakers included MDC students Ashley Aquino, Jennifer Rivera and David Velazco with scholars Celeste Landeros and Jorge Morejón. Each speaker focused on the importance of the dance, its background and the impact it had on Latin American culture.
Aquino, a freshman in MDC’s Dance program, gave a presentation about Puerto Rican Bomba with a performance by live tamboreros (drum players). She was joined on stage by the audience in a dance around the soberano (dance circle).
Aquino said Bomba meant to her “rebellion and resistance” because it represented how Africans felt as slaves in Puerto Rico.
Morejón, a University of Miami lecturer and dance instructor, talked about Cha-Cha. He explained that the dance came into the United States as part of the large-scale immigration of Cubans that occurred after Fidel Castro took control of the country in the ‘60s.
Morejón used Richard Berry’s “Louie Louie” as an example of an American record being influenced by Cha-Cha.
“Richard Berry invented American Cha-Cha,” he said. “Cuban Cha-Cha was able to influence a genre of American music.”
Landeros, an English professor from Barry University and co-editor of “Everynight Life: Culture and Dance in Latin/o America,” spoke about transculturation. She said cultures feed from one another and that’s how some dances even though they’re Hispanic can be European descendant.
“Culture is more unruly than we would like,” said Landeros.
After the show, students and scholars sat down to answer questions from the audience.
Rivera, who’s part of MDC’s Dance program, said she wants people to learn and acknowledge Hispanic culture because America oppresses “any other culture that is not white.”
“Having One Endless Voice is a way of showing our voice and our identity as Hispanics,” she said. “It’s very crucial, especially in today’s society, to be showing this to the public. So, they’re not whitewashed.”
Velazco, who is majoring in Music Education, said he hopes programs like “One Endless Voice” are done more often because Hispanics have “so much culture to give out” but little of it has been cultivated or given the space it deserves locally.