Most Brunonians probably haven’t seen a color guard since high school football games, and never as part of a tango performance. But Brown’s Latino performing arts troupe, Mezcla – “mix” in Spanish – mixed traditional mariachi with Shakira’s music, spoken word with acrobatics and flag corps with tango in their annual spring show held April 19 and 21.
Titled, “Our Rhythm, Nuestra Sabor,” the show aimed for a “modern integration of Latin music with other cultures,” said Frinny Polanco ’07, Mezcla’s president.
This multicultural theme was highlighted in “Dhol Mundial: An Afro Peruvian-South Asian Fusion,” performed with Brown’s Indian dance company Badmaash. First, Badmaash members in colorful tunics and jeweled bindis performed upbeat dances from India, then female dancers from Mezcla in red frilled skirts and crop tops danced traditional pieces from Peru. At the end, the stage filled with dancers from each troupe as they moved in sync to live drum beats, narrowing the gap of over 10,000 miles between the two countries to just the few inches between the festive performers.
Many pieces maintained solely Latino dance styles. The most innovative performance of the night, “Tango Is Not for Three,” began with a couple happily dancing in the classic Argentine style. Then a second woman in a red dress wearing a rhinestone bra peeking above the neckline entered to seduce the man, who left his lady twirling a flag to the side. The three then collided and, still in tango style, simulated a physical altercation, after which the women dumped the man and left him banging his fist against the wall in frustration.
Not every performance told a complex story or even drew upon Latino music. The best choreographed piece, “Freak It,” brought tight moves and breakdancing to Justin Timberlake’s “My Love” and T.I.’s “What You Know About That.” The lead male performer flipped on and off the stage, prompting one member of the energized audience to yell, “Don’t hurt nobody!”
Though the dances were upbeat, the spoken word performances touched on serious topics. In “Reflejos,” one performer compared her father to TV dads with white-collar jobs, saying he “didn’t wear black slacks, he wore black Dickies,” while another speaker, whose mother “told her that real women have curves” and fed her tamales and tortillas, said, “You can tell why my body doesn’t look like the toothpick model.”
Recognizing the need for cultural remembrance as they face contemporary challenges, the speakers concluded, “¿Que es el futuro sin el pasado? What is the future without the past?”
Appropriating both traditional dances and modern styles in a celebration of Latino culture, the hour-and-a-half long Mezcla show effectively spoke to the value of synthesizing cultural traditions and the present.