Fuerza Night brings culture to UAlbany community
By Ada Mbogu
Nov 18, 2014
Fuerza Latina’s annual showcase hit the stage on Thursday Nov. 6 at the Campus Center Ballroom. Fuerza Night featured 10 on-campus student groups performing live dance routines in front of a jam-packed audience.
Partially funded by the Student Association, Intercultural Student Engagement and the Office of Student Success, Fuerza Night has been a long-standing tradition in the UAlbany community, and has helped Fuerza Latina promote Latin-American heritage and pride.
The theme of this year’s Fuerza Night was resilience and what it means to embody and capture that strength through art and dance.
“This year, we wanted the art of resilience to represent our entire theme for tonight,” said Stanley De La Cruz, who is the president of Fuerza Latina. “Latin-Americans have struggled to come to this country and make a better life for themselves and their families. This is one way we can pay homage for their strength and sacrifice.”
Kelly Sepulveda, the special events coordinator for Fuerza Latina, shared a similar sentiment while addressing the important messages the audience should take from each of the performances.
“I would hope the audience will be able to understand that over the past couple of years, our family members have fought to be resilient in order to fight for different causes within our Latin-American community,” said Sepulveda.
But even though Fuerza Latina primarily focuses on issues that cater to the Latin-American community, the organization did not exclude other cultural groups from performing. The organization incorporated a diverse selection of student groups, ranging from Angelic Voices of Praise, Liga Fillipina, UA Nasha, a Bollywood dance group, Knemesis and Fuerza Latina’s very own Dance Troupe.
“Fuerza Latina wanted to include other student groups because we are an inclusive organization,” said Sepulveda. “Yes, we talk about and focus on Latin-American issues but it’s not always about us. It’s about everyone. Everyone has issues within their communities and we are willing to help and support each and every one of those groups.”
The first group to perform was Angelic Voices of Praise. Vice President Corey Parker described his group’s performance by infusing a mime ministry theme to illustrate the group’s religious beliefs and faith.
“I played the role as choreographer, make-up artist and dancer tonight,” said Parker. “The importance of doing the mime ministry as opposed to doing a praise dance was to give the audience more of a theatrical interpretation of dance. Mime ministry involves more in your face movements and sign language, and also allows our members to get more comfortable with themselves and performing.”
The mimes jived to the uplifting sounds of gospel music. By evoking strong sign language and using facial expressions to illustrate strength in pushing forward and believing in faith, AVP’s polished dance steps were a big hit for the audience.
Next up was Liga Filipina, whose performance generated a lot of gyrating hip and energy-packed dance moves.
Starting off with Usher’s classic hit, “Yeah,” the group broke out into a unique step routine that made the crowd roar with excitement. The sequence followed with more hip-hop inspired dance moves, while each of the dancers grooved to the beat in unison.
Therese Palmere, who the Co-Cultural chair as well as a dance member for Liga Filipina, wanted to uphold the tradition of the group performing at this year’s Fuerza Night.
“Liga Filipina has always performed at Fuerza Night for the past couple of years,” said Palmere. “When it came time for auditions, I made sure that we were prepared and worked hard to get us in the showcase.”
Palmere’s inspiration behind the performance was taken right under from her predecessor, Shana Sanchez’s handbook.
“I really wanted to uphold the legacy that Shana left behind,” said Palmere. “She was Cultural Chair when I was a freshman and she was in charge of putting together Liga’s spectacular performance for last year’s Fuerza Night. Hopefully we exceed expectations but ultimately my goal is to do better than last year.”
UA Salsa and UA Nasha brought a unique cultural experience to Fuerza Latina’s center stage. UA Salsa infused Latin American dance styles like the salsa, the tango, and the merengue, while each member of the group was paired off with the opposite sex.
The dancers looked festive in their costumes, with the girls wearing Spanish style red skirts and black long sleeved blouses and the gentlemen wearing complimentary red short sleeve shirts and black slacks with matching vests.
The music provided the ultimate soundtrack to Latin American culture and the crowd couldn’t get enough of the sensual dance moves between UA Salsa’s dancing couples.
UA Nasha’s delivered Bollywood on silver platter at Fuerza Night, with the dancers wearing black and gold sari’s and traditional Indian costumes.
The dance moves were reminiscent of a Bollywood movie scene, where the high energy packed movements and joyous traditional Indian music took center stage. The crowd enjoyed watching UA Nasha get down right and cultural, while still infusing modern dance moves and influences into their routine.
Fuerza Night provided a spectacular showcase where the audience witnessed the diversity and pride between different cultures and ethnicities. With resilience serving as the main theme for this year’s show, each group was able to illustrate their individual culture’s versatility and strength through interpretive dance, music and art.