Bailar En La Cuidad


Rich Ryan

Featuring cast members (L to R) Ricardo Vazquez, Christopher Rivas, Brian Bose, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Natalie Camunas, Thallis Santesteban.

Kellie Rock, Writer/ Traditional Section Editor

The South Shore Spanish students took off on a long trip on Tuesday, March 22nd at the crack of dawn.  The early roll call was well worth it, however, as they traveled south to the Twin Cities to view the play DJ Latinidad.   The group made a quick stop at Kwik Trip in Superior to collect Drummond Spanish students before completing the journey.

The play was held in the Mixed Blood Theatre in downtown Minneapolis.  The building was originally an old firehouse and quite fitting for the production of DJ Latinidad.  Mixed Blood Theater has been the home of visionary plays about culture, equality and race for over 40 years, winning a plethora of awards for their progressive stance on issues.  Their plays strive to converse with the audience while addressing a range of issues.  DJ Latinidad was no different.

In fact, the acceptance of their entrance “tickets,” which were actually glow-in-the-dark bracelets, set the tone for the experience.  With tunes pumped up and lighting set, the stage, so to speak, was set.  In this case, the stage was actually gutted.  The seating was removed as the audience was about to actually participate in the production!  The students were invited in and immediately encouraged to join the dance party.  The entire production lasted slightly under two hours with a flow of dancing by both cast members and audience, a vignette, more dancing, another short story, combined with some singing and choreographed dancing.  “It was new; you wouldn’t find it anywhere in Port Wing or even in Superior,” Jenna Thompson, a first year Spanish student remembered about the performance.

The unique structure of the performance certainly added to creator/director Mark Valdez’s vision.  “DJ Latinidad’s Latino Dance Party is my attempt to figure out what it means to be Latino. What is latinidad (i.e. our shared cultural identity) in modern day U.S. culture? We wanted to gather multiple perspectives from people of different Latin nationalities/cultures, ages, geographies, etc. and get their thoughts on the matter. […] When taken together, these artists, remind us that latinidad is complex and disparate. Obviously there is no single answer to the question of what it means to be Latino…but there are lots of stories. And from these stories we get glimpses into the lives of a people. And as for me and my sense of latinidad…I’m reminded to own who I am. It’s not about being ‘Latino enough’ but that it’s enough just to be Latino.”