By LAUREN TONTI ’14
People packed the seats in Jewett Auditorium this past Saturday evening to watch Wellesley College’s 12th annual Latin@ Cultural Show. Organized by a collaborative Latin@ Cultural Show Committee, the show themed “Las Caras de Latinidad,” celebrated Latin@ culture through dance, song and poetry performances. Many Latin@ community members, not just Wellesley students performed at the show. Flags from many Latin American countries welcomed viewers into the auditorium, and delicious Hispanic food greeted attendees at the end of the show.
Some of the performances featured Wellesley’s own Cielito Lindo, Yanvalou and Mezcla members. Wellesley also welcomed the Latin American Cultural Family Network, Inc., also known as La Piñata, to the stage. Based in Jamaica Plains, La Piñata is a youth folk group that teaches youth Latin American indigenous and contemporary performance art. The kids share their art with the wider Boston community in effort to foster cultural understanding and diversity.
Spoken word segments also supplemented music performances and traditional dances. From flamenco to Mexican polka, these dances featuring intricate footwork and cultural significance, blended with vibrant traditional garments.
Earlier in the semester, the Spanish department and PRESCHO program sponsored a “Taller de Sevillanas” flamenco workshop, led by Elena Torres González of the University of Cordoba and Savitri Restrepo ’16. In this workshop, students learned the basics of the traditional Spanish dance, and, at the show, they showed off their new moves as newfound “bailaoras,” dressed in jewel toned floor-length dresses, swirling and clapping their hands to the beat of Spanish guitar.
Amid this celebration, performers communicated important messages to the audience. Performers guided the audience through the history and reality of personal and cultural struggles Latin@s in the United States face. In a performance entitled “La Corn-azon”, the audience glimpsed the struggles of Guatemalans as “People of the corn.” Students pretended to roll cornmeal while another student spoke of the injustices of Monsanto, a major corn seed distributor in Latin America, that corrupts native culture when it introduces hybrid, genetically modified seeds into the community. Audience members left with a greater understanding of food sovereignty, how local farmers then become dependent on the company for more seed and what impacts that has on a culture and a community.
Nancy Negrete ’14 performed “La Overcompensating Xicana” and brought to the forefront issues surrounding Chicana feminism. Many of spoken word performances were laced with undertones of frustration, some directed at Wellesley College and its administration for impeding the advent of a Latin@ Studies minor at the College.
The Latin@ Cultural show falls during Latin@ Month at Wellesley. The show highlighted Mezcla’s Latin@ Month poster campaign, #YouDon’tKnowOurStruggles, which is displayed across campus to provide insight into the everyday struggles of Latin@ students at Wellesley. Show organizers projected the posters for the audience during intermission. Each poster displays a photo of a Latin@ student and a quote pertaining to something that has either been said to the student or an experience in higher education. Aimed at creating awareness about these salient struggles and serving as a beacon of support for those with similar experiences, these posters add to multicultural awareness on campus.
The events of Latin@ Month celebrate the diversity of Latin@ culture present on campus. Through the time and dedication of student volunteers, the Latin@ community at Wellesley College invites us to share in the personal experiences of fellow Latin@ students. For a full schedule of Latin@ Month events, visit the Mezcla Facebook page.