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La Gala: A celebration of Hispanic heritage

by Christopher Suarez - Copy Editor
Tue, Apr 24th 2018 10:00 pm
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A common saying people often hear is that no matter where people go or where they end up, they should never forget where they come from.  But for Hispanic people, it can be difficult to remember where you come from due to the lack of exposure on Hispanic cultures here in the United States. Because of this, it is always an amazing feeling when you get to be in an atmosphere that reminds you of where you came from. That is exactly what the Association of Latinx American Students (ALAS) brought to the college on April 22.

La Gala is a major event that ALAS hosts every year. Usually held in the Union ballroom, this year the group decided to change it up by hosting the event in the SERC field house on The College at Brockport campus. Event coordinator Heidilis Robles made it all happen. 

“It took several meetings with the SERC manager and the Union event staff to figure out how to transform it and stay organized, but we got it done,” Robles said. 

The field house was decorated beautifully with gold and white decorations everywhere. The group managed to turn an athletic facility into a beautiful space perfect for a gala. Doors opened at 5 a.m., and for an hour, the audience was able to sit down and mingle before the entertainment started. Once the event began, dance coordinator Denise Torres and marketing director Oscar Heradia gave the opening remarks, making jokes and introducing the events to come. After, they presented club president Savannah Valentin and vice president Matthew Goris. 

The two kicked off the night with an amazing performance of a salsa piece to the song “La Gozadera” by Gente de Zona and Marc Anthony. 

The performances then continued with a bachata and reggaeton piece. Bachata is a type of romantic music originating from the Dominican Republic and reggaeton is a form of dance music originating from Puerto Rico. ALAS Dancer Nate Diaz and the ALAS dance group, Frikitona, danced to the songs “Bum Bum Tam Tam remix,” “El Beeper” by Oro Solido and “Propuesta Indecente” by Romeo Santos. 

The theme of this year’s event was Latinx empowerment.  Fitting the theme, the organization decided to give out awards to those who contribute to the group and  who inspire the Latinx community. 

The MVP award was handed out to the most valuable person to the group, the person who contributed the most time and effort to the group. The second award handed out was the “thank you” award presented to the person who was not a part of the group but contributed the most. 

The third award was presented to the most improved dancer. The award was to shine light on two of the dancers who have improved significantly in the last year. 

The fourth award was the spirit award, to the person who brought the most life to the group. The last award was the Latinx Excellency award to the person who had contributed to the Latinx community, on campus and off. 

The awards showed Latinx greatness, but according to executive board member, Paloma Santana-Viera, some people may have felt like the group could be “white washed” by changing its name from the Association for Latin American Students to the Association for Latinx American Students. The group put that whole idea to bed with an empowering poem. The poem recited by the whole executive board was called “Don’t be afraid of the dark,” and it touched on the misconceptions of Hispanic people and shining light on how strong Hispanic people really are. That was not the only empowering poem recited during the event. Senior student Tatyana Benoit recited her very own poem, “Colores.” The poem touched on Hispanic women’s empowerment and Hispanics of African descent. Benoit touched on the point that Hispanics know their roots, but they have their own culture and that should not be overshadowed. 

The show continued with three more uplifting dance performances. The first one was a dedication to Puerto Rico. The group wanted to shine light on the tragedy that occurred on the island. They performed a piece to the song “Almost Like Praying” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, waving Puerto Rican flags and showing love to the beautiful country. This was an emotional piece.

“After all the horror that happened to the island, we had to dedicate a piece to the country,” Valentin said. 

The second performance was another Bachata piece. This piece was performed by Torres and RIT graduate Thomas Sosa. The two dancers performed to “Sobredosis” by Romeo Santos and “Te Extrano” by Xtreme. The final dance was performed by the Frikitona dance team. The performances began with sophomore student Yisel Hernandez doing a solo in a dedication to Mexico. Wearing a red extravagant dress, Hernandez killed the stage. Then the performance continued with the whole Frikitona dance team performing to the Dominican tribal song called “Palos.” The song touches back on the Dominican peoples’ African roots and the Frikitona dance team portrayed that authentically. 

“I believe the performances were great, the decorations of the event were amazing, and I feel like we definitely improved this year’s Gala,” Goris said. 

ALAS showed the people of Brockport that Hispanic people are not just about food and music — but much more than that.

 

csuar1@u.brockport.edu