Latin Ballet of Virginia’s upcoming Saturday performance at Piedmont Virginia Community College will explore expressive facets of Hispanic culture just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month and PVCC’s 50th-anniversary year.
“Alma Latina (Latin Soul)” celebrates a unity that comes from diversity.
“We are diverse from the beginning. That is the beauty of it,” said Ana Ines King, Latin Ballet of Virginia’s artistic director.
“We are all different colors and all different languages. In the Caribbean, there’s so much African culture. In the mountains, it’s more Spanish. It’s Indigenous everywhere.”
Recognizing and celebrating each other’s heritage and traditions is part of the cultural fabric. “It’s very important for us,” King said.
Eleven dancers and seven musicians will help “Alma Latina” cover plenty of cultural ground.
Francisco “El Mesa” Nano, an internationally respected flamenco dancer, is coming from Valencia, Spain, to perform with the Richmond-based dance company.
Ban Caribe, a Richmond band known for its high-octane performances of Afro-Cuban, Latin and Caribbean music, will be there. Led by percussionist Kevin Davis, who frequently performs in the Charlottesville area, the band will provide the dancers with rhythms ranging from salsa to mambo to reggae and tango.
King, who hails from Colombia, said Davis is such an accomplished musician that he has won prestigious salsa festival competitions in Colombia even without being able to speak Spanish.
Founded in 1997, Latin Ballet of Virginia is both a professional dance company and a school of dance. By leading everything from dance classes to lecture demonstrations, the company stays busy teaching about Latin heritage through performance and participation.
And wherever Latin Ballet of Virginia goes, audiences want to be in on the fun. Can’t sit still? That’s not a problem.
“It’s a party. It’s a fiesta,” King said warmly. She sees the phenomenon whenever she teaches Latin dance to new students from all walks of life.
Once students hear the music, “people feel happier,” she said. “They smile. They want to move. Even if they don’t know the steps, they want to move.”
Speaking of parties, the college has an additional reason to celebrate. 2022 is the PVCC’s 50th year serving students in Charlottesville and Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties.
Tickets are $15; seniors and students pay $12. Get them online at pvcc.edu/performingarts or call the box office at (430) 961-5376.