Robin Glynn – Staff Writer –
The Multicultural Center partnered with the Fitness Center to present “The Dance Experience: Hispanic Heritage Edition,” which was taught by Felix Reyes, a dance instructor for the Fitness Center.
“Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Chi Anako, graduate intern for the Multicultural Center. “So the Multicultural Center has been having events that celebrate it. We partnered with the Fitness Center to have a Salsa and Merengue fitness type of course.”
Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America.
According to hispanicheritagtemonth.gov, Sept. 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
As stated by Ethnic Studies, “The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan.”
In the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, 50.5 million residents, or 16 % of the population, were of Hispanic or Latino origins.
This year, events for Hispanic Heritage month have included Zumba Groove Dance Party, movies, Food Fair: Experience the taste of Latino culture, as well as guest speaker John Soto, president & C.E.O. of Space-Craft Manufacturing, who discussed the value of hard work and education. Soto is a founding member of the Progreso Latino Fund, an organization that has devoted countless hours to a variety of causes focusing specifically on helping Connecticut’s youth.
According to The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Hispanics make up the largest minority population in the state. “Also, this is a representation of the Fitness Center,” said Reyes. “I really wanted to get peoples heart rate up. In Latin American countries, this is a way for them to stay healthy, through dance. That is why I wanted to do these dances.”
Amanda Schneider thinks that the dances fit into the celebration.
“It fits well. It was really fun,” said Schneider. “And Felix is a good teacher. I have done Zumba once, but that is all I did as far as Latin dancing.”
“It is a class I have done through dance genre,” said Reyes who has been competitively dancing since he was eight. “Right know we are in Latin ballroom, which is my genre. That is what I have grown up doing my entire life.”
“Felix usually teaches a class called ‘The Dance Experience,’” said Jessica Scibek, Fitness Center coordinator. “Each week when he teaches ‘The Dance Experience.’ He teaches hip-hop and all different kinds of dance each week.”
About 25 students showed up to learn a few Latin dances and to get a workout. Students were taught three dances; the Merengue, the Salsa and the Mambo.
“These dances are part of our culture that we do for social events,” said Reyes about the importance of the three dances. “These dances are part of a societal norm.”
Reyes said that these dances are the most common dances for Latin American countries.