At the 12th annual Latin@ Culture Show, University students will perform dances, poetry, monologues and piano pieces. But unlike previous years, the cultural acts are not just from Latin America. They’re from all over the world.
12th Annual Latin@ Culture Show
Tomorrow at 7 p.m.
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
The theme of this year’s show is Pangea. In accordance with that theme, Latin@ Culture Show will have other University groups such as the Amala Dancers — a West African dance group — and the Persian Student Assembly representing their respective cultures.
“Although the emphasis is still on our culture, we wanted to embrace a theme that our music wasn’t created out of thin air,” said LSA sophomore Ramiro Alvarez, one of the show’s producers. “It was created from the influences of the Arab world and the West African world.”
The “@” ending is meant to represent the Spanish language’s masculine “o” and feminine “a” suffixes. When spoken, it’s called the “Latina and Latino Culture Show,” a title meant to make the show gender inclusive.
This language choice highlights an important part of the show’s mission, which is to reduce stigma and raise awareness about marginalized groups such as undocumented students, stereotyped as “illegal immigrants.”
“We want to display the intersectionality of the lives we lead,” Alvarez said. “On top of being Latino on campus, you can be Afro-Latino, who face their own stigmas in the Latino world. You can be a member of the queer community and be Latino, you can be undocumented and be Latino. Unfortunately, a lot of these in societal norm views are stigmatized.”
This year, the Coalition for Tuition Equality will be presenting a monologue on undocumented students at the show. In addition to raising awareness about these groups, the students who organize the show also give back to their community, locally and worldwide.
“We’re sponsoring a little girl in Mexico until she is 18,” Alvarez said. “She is 5 now and … we’re going to keep up with it every year and show where she is at.”
The group is also working with a student in the School of Social Work to bring 40 students from Detroit high schools to Ann Arbor. The students will learn about applying to college and financial aid packages. The Latin@ Culture Show is subsidizing tickets for the high-school students so they can attend.
Students from the show also did community service in Detroit recently. While there, they saw two 7-year-olds who were talented breakdancers and recruited them to perform their moves at the show.
Because Latin culture is so diverse, there will be an eclectic range of dances in addition to the Persian and West African styles. New York Salsa, Bachata — a type of Dominican dance — Mexican folkloric and other styles will be performed. The final act is a secret Brazilian-inspired dance.
“The people who take part (in the dances) try different things. We have our Latinos who are Dominican and they grew up dancing Merengue and they’re really good at that, but they try something different like Mexican folkloric,” Alvarez said. “We do have some (people) that join what they’re best at and they really shine through that during the show.”
The Latin@ Culture Show has grown immensely since it started 12 years ago.
“We’ve gone from humble beginnings,” Alvarez explained. “It started off in the basement of the League on that little stage. It was an hour and it was free. Now it’s at the Mendelssohn Theatre and has almost five hundred people in attendance.”
The Latin@ Culture Show aspires to be like Indian American Student Associations’ Cultural Show, which has become one of the largest student-run cultural shows on the continent. Reaching that goal will be a challenge for the Latin@ Cultural Show because Latina and Latino students are a small minority on campus. One of the great benefits of the show is that it helps to unite this small community.
“I’ve taken classes specifically to meet more Latinos,” Alvarez said. “You’re so eager to meet more people that look like you, that you can speak your native language with, that you can complain about the same things with. This show really brings us together.”