Fiesta celebrates Latino culture

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Students from the different sections come back to the stage at the end of Fiesta. The sections this year included: Brazil, Peru, the Caribbean, Colombia and Mexico. (Bryan Barba Salazar)

Students from across the university performed a variety of dances from different Latin American cultures for BYU’s annual Fiesta event Friday, Nov. 3.

Fiesta, which means party in Spanish, is an event organized by BYU’s Multicultural Student Services office. The event showcases the diversity and richness of Latin American culture through dance.

The different performances included dances from Brazil, Mexico, the Caribbean, Colombia and Peru. Each section was composed of full-time students from all over campus, including the section leaders who volunteered to arrange the performances.

Although students may or may not have begun with a connection to the country they were representing, throughout the process they are often filled with a desire to learn about the culture they are dancing for. Many participants are not professional dancers but are enthusiastic to learn the Fiesta routines.

Howes stands next to the Colombian flag in the Fiesta sign. Howes danced in Fiesta as a way to connect with her roots. (Bryan Barba Salazar)

Miranda Howes, a sophomore from California, had a special connection with the country she was representing as her mother is from Cali, Colombia.

“I just wanted to do something that I could connect more with my roots,” Howes said.

Even though she had never danced in a setting like this before, Howes was able to become more comfortable with the dance through the help of her section leaders. The section leaders of the Colombian section worked with her so she could perform to the best of her ability, Miranda Howes said.

“This night is amazing and just so bright,” Howes said at the end of the event.

Howes was supported by her parents and grandparents at Friday’s performance. Her parents made the trip to Utah from California.

“We just flew to come for Fiesta,” Luisa Howes said.

Luisa Howes shared she loved every minute of Fiesta because all the performances were great and showed the students’ effort.

The Howes family stands in front of the Fiesta sign. Howes’ parents flew from California to see her performance. (Bryan Barba Salazar)

“I was very fascinated with the costumes and the teamwork,” Luisa Howes said.

Luisa Howes, who has lived in the U.S. for many years, had a special experience while seeing her daughter on the stage representing her home country.

“It was bringing tears to my eyes … and it nurtured my soul tonight,” Luisa Howes said.

Yisel Meza, a senior from Mexico, performed with Peru. She joined the Peruvian section after one of her friends, who is Peruvian, invited her.

“I had a good time getting to know people and getting to know about … their culture,” Meza said about her experience.

Meza highlighted the performer’s preparation, and said they held weekly practices leading up to the event. Meza said it helped to see the support and energy from the audience while they were performing.

Claire Hendricks, a senior studying public relations, came to see her friends and coworkers who were performing.

“It was super cool seeing everyone express their culture and dance and have fun together,” Hendricks said.

Hendricks came for her friends, but said she was cheering on everybody. She said she enojyed all of the performances.

“There’s … no excuse not to come,” Hendricks said.

Those who missed Fiesta this year can look forward to Fiesta next fall.

The MSS Office will hold Lu’au, another cultural appreciation event, on the evenings of Nov. 15 and 16. Lu’au is an annual commemoration of Polynesian heritage, culture and traditions. The event is currently sold out but those interested can watch the livestream on the MSS office website.

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