Goodrich was packed on Saturday night – but not with the kind of dancing you might expect. A large crowd of students filled both levels of the hall as Ritmo Latino and Capoeira infused the space with traditional Latin American music and moves. Headed by co-chairs Giselle Jimenez ’11 and Barbara Cymring ’11, Ritmo’s fifth-year anniversary celebration soared to success with a well-paced, highly passionate performance. As the dancers executed move after stunning move with endless excitement, the mesmerized audience could hardly stay in their seats.
The dancers began with a cumbia – a courtship dance originating with African slaves in Colombia – as the traditionally dressed pairs stepped onto the stage. With swishing skirts and seductive smiles, the women of Ritmo Latino drew their audience in and never let go. The chemistry continued into the next song, a joropo – also Colombian – where the partners moved seamlessly through sudden changes in pace. The connection between the pairs was simply irresistible as they performed extremely complicated patterns without losing the smiles on their faces.
In the “Cuban Casino” dance, Jimenez partnered up with Ifiok Inyang ’11 to heat things up a little. The intense connection between the two had grown practically palpable when four other couples joined them, transforming the movements into a graceful circle dance. Although the dance featured moves that involved the men leaning onto the women and seeming to need their support, both genders held their own throughout the night.
In order to keep the audience entertained, Ritmo showed a rehearsal blooper reel while the group changed costumes between some of the numbers. While some of the snafus that occurred during rehearsal (including some painful-looking but irresistibly funny falls) were absolutely hilarious, the videos also showed the immense amount of practice that went into preparing for the performance, and they proved that the dances really are much harder than they look on stage.
After the brief break, the hot moves continued into the salsa dance, as the men sent women in red dresses soaring high into the air with amazing lifts. Though it originated in Cuba, salsa has become a popular form of dance around the world. The sensuality of the moves was a beautiful way of expressing the sexual tension so often felt in a college environment. The choreography, crafted by Don Polite ’13 and Katrina Tulla ’11, was spectacular in this piece.
Midway through the performance, Capoeira took the stage. Combining martial arts, music and dance, the gymnastics performed by this group were astonishing. Through what can essentially be described as fake fights, the group executed kicks, handstands and jumps impeccably. Though Capoeira is largely male, the only female in the group, Niralee Shah ’12, had no trouble playing with the boys. The improvised fighting is all about being able to react to the movements of the opponent or partner in the moment, much as un-choreographed dancing is.
When Ritmo returned, things were as hot as ever. Jimenez and Inyang took the lead again in the bachata, a romantic dance originating in the Dominican Republic, but all of the couples onstage seemed intensely involved in the music. Next, in the merengue, the three women went through the motions of rejecting, then accepting their male partners. Jimenez, Cymring, and the extremely talented Jennifer Monge ’12 showed real personality in this dance. An ongoing theme – showcasing the beauty and talent of the woman – was heightened in this dance, as it was clear with which partner the power laid, but this theme developed even more in the next dance, a salsaton. Shah and Viviana Benjumea ’13 literally controlled their male partners with invisible ropes in part of this dance, and the exceedingly challenging moves had the audience on their feet.
As the crowd roared with a standing ovation, Ritmo took the time to single out its seniors, all of whom were particularly strong. As they received their flowers and congratulations, it was clear that their passion for Ritmo was more than just a face put on during the show. They had successfully shared not only Latino culture, but also their love of Latino dance, and it is safe to say that Ritmo’s performance will not soon be forgotten by anyone who attended.