Sabor Latino performance examines multinational Latino identity

I know very little about my ancestry, but since I began attending Geneseo, I’ve encountered many people who are incredibly knowledgeable about their heritage and - more importantly - undeniably proud of it.

This ethnic pride is embodied most evidently in our cultural clubs, and at the Latino Student Association’s Sabor Latino dinner on Saturday March 30, I saw that confidence and dedication manifest itself into a spectacular and educational performance.

This year’s theme was “Vámonos” and throughout the week, the club’s co-presidents, juniors Debbie Medina and Marielee Cruz, and the rest of the LSA executive board put in countless hours trying to perfect every aspect of the night.

Like most ethnic terms, Latino doesn’t refer to a specific person, but instead encompasses individuals from diverse origins and unifies them all under the guise of certain basic principles and traditions. This year, LSA strived to address the issue by including stories and features from different countries all over Latin and South America.

“Vámonos means ‘let’s go’ and we wanted to make it feel like the audience was going on a journey,” Medina said. “So we included traditional dances, poetry, singers and foods originating from each of the countries in our skit.”

This year, each item on the menu was from a different nation, and included yellow rice and beans, cheese and chicken empanadas, pollo pupusa and churros.

Every year, LSA presents a funny, music-filled skit that addresses issues relating to Latino culture. This year though, Medina said they wanted to depart from the pop culture ideas they are known for and focus on more authentic South and Latin American culture.

This year’s incredible performances included a Mexican skirt dance, a Colombian salsa, a Brazilian martial arts dance called capoeira, the bachata and los palos dances from the Dominican Republic, a Puerto Rican merengue and a Latino hip-hop routine. 

In addition to the food, dancing and skit, this year LSA incorporated other talents into its show, including a tribute to Ritchie Valens, an Argentine tango song, Uruguayan poems and a Guatemalan poetry reading from associate professor of Spanish Rose McEwen.

“We want it to be a memorable experience, but we tried to make this year educational as well,” said Medina. “We included a PowerPoint with facts and dates, incorporated different poems and songs [into the skit], and tried to focus less on popular genres and more on traditional dances.” 

“For the performers, LSA is a way for them to learn more about their personal origins,” added Medina. “It’s a way for us to unite as a club and culture.”