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This weekend, a cruise director's voice instructed audience members to sit back and prepare for a journey of cultural experiences. The cruise ship was the Salomon auditorium, and the cultural tour guides were Brown's Mezcla dancers.

Mezcla is a student-run Latino performing arts group. The group's name — Spanish for "mixture" — reflects its mission to "explore and convey the diversity and richness of Latino culture," according to Mezcla's Web site.

Dancer Jennifer Gutierrez '12 said Mezcla is just as much about community as it is about performing arts. "It unites students through dance," she explained. 

True to its mission of mixture, Mezcla's fall show, "On a Boat," guided the audience on an international "cruise" of a medley of Latino dances.

The show was high-energy from the very first port-of-call, Brazil. In this number, eight female dancers in jingling belts performed an animated samba that set up the spirited atmosphere for the rest of the night.

The next stop was Venezuela, where two couples performed a stylish salsa. The women's red dresses encircled the dancers as they spun and flipped over their partners' backs. A playful cumbia dance followed, with performers in traditional Colombian costume.

Next up was a minor geographical detour. In a guest appearance, Badmaash, Brown's Indian dance troupe, took the stage. Dancers with bells on their ankles, hands towards the skies, drummed their bare feet the stage. While this performance was unlike the other dances culturally, its spirit and passion aligned perfectly with the rest of the evening.

Back on the Latino tour, the audience enjoyed a colorful flamenca performance whose pace accelerated to a lively rhythm. A Cuban salsa, complete with playful partner switching and lifts, followed the flamenca dance.

Brown's student mariachi band made a guest appearance as well. They serenaded the audience with guitars, violins, trumpets and festive shouts.

Next came a Dominican-style merengue infused with reggaeton, a fun combination of traditional and modern dance that reflects Mezcla's ability to combine and unite diverse elements.

In an interesting twist, guest performers Unnatural Selection, a student break-dancing group, adapted to the theme of the night. A few technical difficulties at Friday's performance meant that their own music would not play, but the dancers were not fazed and they went on to break-dance to Latin guitar music. They adjusted their rhythm, and the resulting dance was an impressive, and fortuitous, cross-cultural performance.

Mezcla wrapped up the night with modern hip-hop dances in front of projected graphics of New York and Puerto Rico. In a final burst of color, the dancers walked down the aisles, waving the flags of the various countries whose dance styles had been performed.




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