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Mezcla thrills with annual performance

“Chrysalis” showcases variety of traditional, contemporary Latin dances

<p>The troupe performed for a full house both Friday and Saturday night.</p><p>Courtesy of Rashawn Alam</p>

The troupe performed for a full house both Friday and Saturday night.

Courtesy of Rashawn Alam

Mezcla — Brown and RISD’s Latinx dance troupe — welcomed an excited audience into Alumnae Hall on Friday and Saturday night for their annual performance. Mezcla dancers performed alongside other Brown dance groups including Brown Badmaash and Oja! Modern African Dance.

The troupe performed for full houses both Friday and Saturday night, with audience members traveling from across the United States and abroad to attend the shows, the troupe announced at the performances. Both shows sold out by Wednesday night.

“Chrysalis” — a name inspired by the metamorphic stage in a butterfly’s life cycle — demonstrated the rich diversity of traditional and contemporary Latin dance. The show opened with a “sexy, seductive and sultry” salsa, then moved into bachata and bolero, according to the show’s virtual program.

Some numbers mixed songs from popular artists like Bad Bunny, Rosalía and Shakira. Other numbers included a burlesque Milonga —  described as a “fast style Argentine tango” — and an Afro-Latin fusion in collaboration with Oja!.

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“We’re doing all of these different styles, many of which people are learning for the first time,” said co-Financial Director and dancer Emma Berg ’23. 

Some dance numbers incorporated skits, during which Mezcla dancers acted out the experience of auditioning for the troupe or took the audience through George Lucas’s “Star Wars” universe alongside dancers from Badmaash. 

A South Asian fusion dance team, Badmaash incorporates dance elements from other cultures to create their “own story and style,” said Naveen Abraham ’23, a head captain of Badmaash. 

Badmaash and Mezcla have a long history of collaboration, Abraham said. “Every year it’s so much fun,” he said, adding that bringing the two groups together “highlights what (both) teams do best.”

This weekend’s performances were the culmination of months of preparation by Mezcla’s 29 dancers and its tech team. 

Tech week — the week of rehearsals immediately preceding the show — involved long rehearsals every day, in addition to ensuring everything from costumes to lighting was ready for opening night, Berg said. 

“I was most excited about finally getting a crowd because we’ve been performing (for) zero people this past week,” Berg said.”We really feed off everybody’s energy.”

Co-Director and Mezcla dancer Valerie Villegas ’25 said she was excited to “see the culmination of my hard work and the team’s hard work” and to share what she has been working on with her friends outside of the group.

Audience members were encouraged to cheer loudly between and during numbers. “Mezcla audiences are known to leave with a lot of joy,” Villegas said. 

“It’s the most incredible, lively experience as a Puerto Rican person to see my people dancing on stage,” said Nélari Figueroa-Torres ’25, who attended the show. They added that Mezcla’s standards “go up every single year.” 

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Preparations for next year’s auditions will begin as early as June — while rehearsals for next spring’s dances will begin in October.

Villegas said that Mezcla will now take “a couple week(s) hiatus” to rest, but will spend the rest of the semester performing at smaller events they are invited to.

And the troupe’s energy from this weekend’s shows also “extends to our regular lives at Brown,” Berg said.

The team is “just like family,” Villegas said, noting that its success occurs “because we care about what we do and work really hard to maintain that core place of love.”

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