It was a scorching Tuesday evening in the center of the SMU campus, but you wouldn’t know the heat crept over 100 degrees by the way that the Folkorico dancers floated across the stage.
The College Hispanic American Students Organization (CHAS)celebrated the beginning of Latin Heritage Month, which is taking place across the country from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, with several types of dancing, traditional South American and Cuban foods, a Mariachi band and a DJ.
“SMU is doing their part to celebrate Latino heritage within the Latino community of SMU and the city of Dallas,” Pascual Pellegrino, the CHAS event coordinator, said.
The celebration, entitled “Viva America,” drew a crowd of about 60 people to watch and join in the festivities.
“What we wanted to do is commemorate every Latin nation from the top of the Caribbean all the way to the southern Pacific Ocean,” he said.
Students, like SMU junior Rachelle Schelhaas, gathered around the stage to see the many different dances.
“I love the costumes, they are so vibrant,” she said.
The dances included traditional Folkorico, Tejano, Flamenco and even Brazilian Capoeira, a dance that brings together dancing and martial arts.
Children and students joined in dancing to the music from the DJ booth, while many indulged in the popular Latin-American food choices, like tacos and empanadas, which Schelhaas said were her favorite.
In addition to celebrating Latin Heritage Month, CHAS also hoped to gain campus awareness from the “Viva America Celebration,” which has been going on for the past five
“We want to promote who we are on campus so that we can gain more active members,” Pellegrino said.
CHAS was started at SMU in 1972 and currently has about 60 active members.
Though member growth slowed in recent years, CHAS hopes to change that with events like “Viva America.”
CHAS also puts on other events throughout the year, like salsa dancing nights in Hughes-Trigg and Umphrey Lee, which are poplar with students.
Salsa night is put on four times a year and includes free salsa lessons and live music, Pellegrino and Cesar Rincon, the vice president of CHAS, said.
“I joined CHAS two years ago because it is a big multicultural organization and it was a great way to meet other people,”
Rincon also hoped to gain a larger campus presence with this kickoff event to make sure that students know about CHAS.
CHAS has meetings every other Thursday for members and those interested in attending.
Video shot and edited by Bridget Bennett firstname.lastname@example.org