By Rayana Hunt
The Wilkinson Center Ballroom filled with music, balloons and people interested in Latin American culture Saturday night, March 23, for the yearly Heritage Week Fiesta.
Fiesta 2002 was a combination of information booths about each Latin American country, talent performances from Hispanic cultures, and a Latin dance to conclude the evening.
Multicultural counselor Lisa Muranaka, advisor of this year”s fiesta, said the purpose of the fiesta was to “celebrate the Hispanic culture” and to make people “aware of the music and traditions.”
Booths were set up in the Garden Court displaying objects and information about different Latin American countries. Ethnic food could be purchased for less than a dollar at the event.
A showcase of Latin American singing and dancing was performed by students from BYU and Utah Valley State College.
Muranaka said most of the students just learned the dances for the program this semester.
Jim Slaughter, assistant director of Multicultural Student Services, said the students that performed the Latin dances in the showcase come from several races and cultures, not just from Latin America.
“This is not an identity activity for Hispanics,” said Slaughter. “Anyone could come and learn.”
Slaughter said any student who could commit to come to practices was allowed to participate. Performances included dances from Mexico, Brazil, Peru, and several other countries.
The first dance originated from the Aztec civilization. Dancers wore golden headpieces with enormous blue feathers, sticking out in a semi-circle around their heads.
Mexican dancers of the “Yucatan” spun and stepped while balancing glass water bottles on their heads.
One of the final dances was the Brazilian capoeira, which is a type of martial arts dancing. Performers made kicking and ducking movements rhythmically to the music without ever touching each other. Others twisted and flipped in what could be compared to American break-dancing.
David Cragun, 21, a sophomore from Oregon majoring in piano performance, participated in one of the numbers, San Juanito from Ecuador.
“Dancing is a way to use the elements of time, space and energy in our movements to express what we have inside,” Cragun said. “It”s what we can”t always get out in words.”