MELISSA GIUGNO — Special to Southern News
There wasn’t a dull moment at last week’s Noche De Gala dance as electric music kept the dance floor continuously full and spicy acts kept everyone entertained. Last Thursday, The Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) hosted the annual Noche De Gala in the ballroom. The goal was to not only dance and have a good time, but to teach students about Spanish culture while raising funds for a scholarship for two Hispanic students, incoming or current attendees. Every year the dance entertains a different theme representing a different country and this year was “Por el De España,” or “For the Love of Spain.”
“I’ve been a part of Noche de Gala for four years now, we picked Spain because Spain influenced so much. We [Also] try to help the Latino community so they can come to college,” said Erika Colon. Colon organized the event and expressed how moved she is not only for teaching students about the Spanish culture, but also for what the dance helps accomplish, “I want [the students] to know why we do this, a lot of people think [it’s] just a dance, but I want them to know that we do this to help the Latino community, to give scholarships so we can help.”
The night featured acts dedicated to Spain. The first act of the night was two Spanish poem readings by Professors Luisa Piemontese and Carlos Arboleda.
“When they invited us to do this we immediately said yes,” said Piemontese, “I’m going to go back and talk to all my colleagues and see if we can come every single year and contribute to it in any way we can.”
Piemontese read a poem which has personally inspired her: Tu Julio De Bugo. “It [was] very important [because] it shows the woman who’s just a slave, to the bigotry [in comparison to] the woman that is strong, “I am a woman…I have strength…I have power.” So it’s a very powerful poem for me in particular, and why I loved reading it.”
Arboleda, who has been the advisor nor almost nine years, felt very close to the event.
“I would definitely come back. But not just for this, but for all of the students,” said Arboleda. “The poems mean something very interesting to me; it reflected social reality of Spain in 1930. The poems really connects me to that reality; the reality of justice, love, freedom.”
Following the poems was an energized flamingo performed by Felix Reyes and Amanda Meador. Reyes is the Publicist on the board for OLAS. For this year’s Noche De Gala, Reyes took charge of the décor and the second act.
“I want people to leave understanding how rich the Spanish heritage is and how influential it is in our society today, we have so many things that derived from that,” said Reyes.
Both Reyes and Meador said they loved performing at the Noche De Gala. The two regularly perfrom together on campus and within New Haven.
“The danced symbolized the fight between man and woman…the passion that comes with being lovers,” said Meador. “I loved the poems they were beautiful and they tied in [with the dance] really well.”