Last Thursday, Sept. 26, marked the first day of Bellevue College’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The first event focused primarily on Brazilian culture by featuring samba dancing. At 11 a.m. attendees gathered in the cafeteria to watch a demonstration by the Tudo Beleza Brazilian Dance Company. A workshop followed the performance in room C120.
“It’s Brazilian dance,” said Lisette Austin, one of the professional dancers from Tudo Beleza, but “this was more Afro-Brazilian samba, samba reggae.” She, along with Mikaela Romero, another dancer, conducted the dance workshop. Dressed in matching brightly colored tops, Austin and Romero stood facing the front of the room. Together, they led a group of students through a short routine.
Exuberant native Brazilian music filled the room as Romero and Austin repeated the different moves several times, shouting over the noise that filled the room. As the event continued, more and more students joined in, creating a diverse group. Despite joining in the middle of the workshop, they easily caught on to the dance moves. At the end of the hour, the group was split into two and had a dance-off. Each side was led by one of the instructors. After a few minutes, the group formed a large circle and danced everything they had learned together.
Thursday’s event stands out in particular from the rest of the Hispanic Heritage Month because it highlights Brazilian culture which tends to receive less recognition as a part of Latino culture. Oriana Estrada, who works in Multi-Cultural Services at BC, helped orchestrate Hispanic Heritage Month. She stresses the importance of Thursday’s event, explaining that it was “showing Brazilian music and dance which often isn’t the first thing people think about when they think about Hispanic or Latino people … it’s important to show the full spectrum.”
Although Hispanic Heritage Month is nationally recognized from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, BC’s celebration was shifted to coincide with the college’s schedule. Thursday’s event, as well as the rest of Hispanic Heritage Month, was organized in a joint effort by El Centro Latino and the Latin American Culture Club. El Centro Latino Director Victoria Sifuentes explained that she decided to open the month with samba dancing “because a lot of people don’t really know about Brazilian and Latin culture.” The workshop included a dance tutorial because of its importance in the culture. Instead of just hosting a performance, the added component of the workshop was “a good way to bring people together” said Sifuentes.
Estrada was also pleased with how the event turned out saying that it was “good” but because it was in the cafeteria, “it [was] a little noisy. But it provided a natural crowd, so I think it went well.”
The next Hispanic Heritage Month event will feature keynote speaker Maria Chavez Pringle talking about “America’s Very Latino Future.” It will be held in N201 on October 2 from 11.30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.