Viva America dances SMU into Hispanic Heritage Month

Editor’s note, Oct. 19, 1:15 p.m.: This story has been updated throughout.

Multiple dance groups took SMU on a diverse tour through some Latino countries and traditions at Viva America on Thursday.

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Members of the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico company perform at SMU's Viva America celebration on Thursday. Photo credit: Rachel Gorgol

The event hosted by SMU’s Multicultural Student Affairs and College Hispanic American Students (CHAS), is intended to open up the campus to new cultures. CHAS hosts events throughout the year open to students of all backgrounds.

“CHAS helped me find a sense of community and find my place here,” said Diana Sanchez, a junior transfer student. “Everyone is welcome.”

Viva America drew about 150 students, faculty, staff and visitors to Van Meter Plaza by the Residential Commons.

“This is for all SMU students on campus to be open to learning about other cultures,” said Nohemi Mora, president of SMU CHAS and an organizer of the event. “A lot of good dialogues could come from learning more and not having judgments or stereotypes.”

The night kicked off with dancers ranging in age from 5 to 17 from the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico company performing a traditional dance called Rebozo de Seda. The performance symbolized a train ride through the western states of Mexico.

The next performance was a Brazilian Samba performed by United Dance Academy. The dance featured four women in elaborate feathered and sequined costumes, which drew in crowds of passers by.

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Members of SMU Ballroom perform a salsa at SMU's Viva America celebration on Thursday. Photo credit: Rachel Gorgol

Everyone was welcome to join in the samba dancing to learn from the dancers after their performance.

“It’s all about fun for the SMU community and exposing them to different cultures,” said Rumaldo Robles, Vice President of CHAS.

People were also welcome to a diverse selection of food, including Desperado’s empanadas and taquitos, Zagyan Latin Café’s arepas and plantains, and Los Gemelos Pupuseria’s pupusas, representing food from multiple Latino countries.

About halfway through the evening, Mora, invited people on stage to stand with a flag from a Latino country that they felt connected with or represents their nationality. They were then invited to pick up the flag to carry it in a circle around the plaza and wave the flag proudly.

SMU Ballroom put on the final performance of the night. A couple performed a salsa and then proceeded to teach the audience a basic salsa step by step to end the event.

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