Arts and Culture

Diverse performances bring dynamism to Dance Fest 2017: Unmasked

Dance groups are an integral part of the arts here at Wheaton College and, not surprisingly, prove to be their best when they embrace the spirit of collaboration.

On the evening of Friday Feb. 17, Tap Out Loud and Paraíso Latino joined forces for a night of energetic and eclectic dance numbers on the Weber Theater stage in Watson Fine Arts. Guest performances included Voices United to Jam, Lymin’ Lyons and The Wheatones. A collection of dances choreographed to modern pop music and an assortment of traditional pieces originating from countries across Latin America were woven together to create a dynamic atmosphere.

The night was composed of many performances from each group, celebrating multiple dance styles and the talents of Wheaton’s dancers.

Paraíso Latino, Wheaton’s Latin dance group, kicked off the night by dancing to Cumbia, a unifying musical genre widespread throughout Latin America. Throughout the night, they continued to celebrate Latin culture by performing dances and musical selections originating from many different parts of Latin America, including the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Argentina and Uruguay.

A highlight of Paraíso’s performance was the Senior Piece choreographed by Maria Thomas and performed by Samantha Yager ’17, Natalie Fernandes ’17, and Cynthia Mercedez ’17. The number highlighted each dancer individually, celebrating their final year as members of the group. All three dancers were featured in bios on the back of the program, detailing their dance backgrounds, interest in Latin American dance styles and involvement with Paraíso Latino.

Tap Out Loud, Wheaton’s tap dance team, performed a selection of dances choreographed to modern pop songs, including some by Mumford & Sons and Adele. Highlights of their performance included a tribute to the late George Michaels, who passed away in December 2016. The group celebrated his legacy by dancing to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” in a fun and colorful number enjoyed by the crowd.

The back and forth arrangement of numbers by each group created a lively atmosphere that captivated the audience. Musical interludes performed by The Wheatones and VUJ offered yet another addition to the well performed lineup and the positive climate of this event.

The second act began with a collaboration by both groups featuring the Lymin’ Lyons. Steel drums and rhythmic percussion accompanied the footwork of Tap Out Loud and Paraíso Latino as they joined the band on stage. The number was full of energy, and the members of all three groups could be seen enjoying the performance just as much as the audience.

Paraíso Latino closed the show with an impressive number full of complicated lifts and spins choreographed by Theoni Varoudaki ’18 and Ibrahim Nshimirimana ‘19 and performed by Yager, Fernandes, Tony Karera ’20, as well as Nshimirimana. They amazed the audience with their dramatic performance and skill.

Unmasked served as a celebration of many things, including tap dancing, Latin music and dance styles and the dedication of the members of both Tap Out Loud and Paraíso Latino to their art. Dance Fest 2017 was also an undeniable celebration of Wheaton’s community, which was represented by a supportive and enthusiastic audience cheering on the dancers throughout the night. Students came together to experience the diverse styles of dance performed by Paraíso Latino and Tap Out Loud and to support their peers.