By J’na Jefferson
There was an eruption of culture last Monday night as the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with the Rider community, which enjoyed a night of dance performances by Culture Explosion.
Culture Explosion is a Latin American dance troupe that performs at various venues all over the world. The group also teaches prospective professional dancers.
Juan Calderon, the creator of the group, produced an easy and effective syllabus to teach various styles of dance so that everyone interested was able to participate. Rider students were fortunate enough to watch specialists perform flamenco, bachata, capoeira and salsa, and there was a dance lesson at the end in which the audience was encouraged to participate.
In addition to the dance troupe showing off its unique moves, Calderon provided extensive histories on the different styles of dance, creating an entertaining and educational atmosphere.
“I like to see different things, and he gave a really good background on the dances,” sophomore elementary education major Amber Richter said.
According to Calderon, flamenco dancing has taken on many different forms since its inception in Spain in the 1700s. The dance implements many intricate hand movements and fast spins. The dancer who performed the flamenco did so with a fan and a very lavish outfit. During the routine she exhibited tremendous skill when she used castanets, which are small, shell-like percussion instruments that make clicking noises.
The next dance exhibition was the bachata. Since this form was originally known as the “music of sorrows,” the songs used sounded extremely emotional. Calderon assured the audience that many popular songs have a bachata version, including singles by Bruno Mars, Adele and Usher.
“Bachata is very versatile,” Calderon said. “It’s a fusion of styles such as bolero, flamenco, even hip-hop.”
The movements of the bachata dance are very slow and sensual at first, but as the rhythm and the beat pick up, so do the leg and foot movements. Yesenia Adame, a five-time veteran of Dancing With The Stars, performed the bachata as well as the salsa. According to Calderon, she has been on the television show more than any other dancer who performs these styles.
The troupe also introduced the audience to a lesser-known style called capoeira. It is a combination of martial arts, acrobatics and dance. This style originated on slave plantations in Brazil as a kind of slave uprising. Calderon called the dance “a legal form of fighting.” Break dancers and hip-hop artists use moves from capoeira, such as freezes, flips and handstands. Males typically perform this dance, but Culture Explosion switched it up by including a very strong female dancer.
“I really liked watching that style,” Richter said. “There wasn’t much actual dancing, but the dancer really showed her strength.”
The salsa, much like the bachata, takes on various forms depending on the place where it’s performed. Slightly different styles are present in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Colombia, New York, Miami and Los Angeles for example. This particular salsa dance performance had lifts, slides, drops, kicks and fast, sharp movements.
“The word ‘salsa’ is Spanish for ‘sauce,’ and that’s exactly what this dance is like,” Calderon said. “There are different flavors that come together to make a concoction that everyone can enjoy.”
By the end of the performance, Culture Explosion seemed to have successfully entertained the audience while broadening its knowledge about different types of dance to help commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month.
Printed in the 11/30/12 edition