Hispanic Heritage Month came to a festive close in Richard Harris Terrace with a Colombian dance performance by theatre major Ruth Maoly Colmenares and her partner Daniel Fetecua Soto, an award-winning salsa dancer and member of the renowned Limón Dance Company.
With Soto in an elegant white suit and Colmenares in a swirling traditional costume, the pair showed intricate footwork and marked their tempo with vigorous, precise stomping that had the audience calling out “Encore!”
The program also featured liberal arts major Kimberly Fergie Vargas, who was just accepted into the music program at City College/CUNY, and who spoke about growing up in Puebla, Mexico, studying classical piano and singing with big bands and quartets.
“I want to speak for other Mexican students,” she said, recognizing their “economic struggle and language barriers.”
Last of all, liberal arts major Jefferson Torres—welcomed by Professor Rosario Torres-Guevara, who co-chaired Hispanic Heritage Month with Professor Jose Haro—delivered an original Latin hip-hop piece, inspiring guests who were enjoying a complimentary buffet luncheon, to clap along.
Latino Hero Awardee, Dr. Carmen Martinez-Lopez
This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, with the theme Embracing Differences, celebrated Latin culture’s global diversity.
The opening ceremony featured Grammy-nominated percussionist Wilson “Chembo” Corniel and 2014 Latino Hero Award recipient Dr. Carmen Martinez-Lopez, former deputy chair of the BMCC business department.
The month of events also showcased a performance by the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, as well as a guest talk and music performance, Ecosocialism Movement through the Arts.
Film, art and poetry
Film screenings included Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle, a documentary by Phillip Rodriguez on the life of pioneering journalist Ruben Salazar. Participants also viewed and discussed A Better Life, starring Demián Bichir as a gardener in Los Angeles, and Walkout, which focuses on students at an East Los Angeles high school.
Highlighting the visual arts, Hispanic Heritage Month provided a demonstration of Papel Cortado, a method of paper cutting that dates back to the Aztecs, and an exhibit, Caribbean Carnival Portraits, which showcased the photography of Mario Picayo and Mariano Hernandez, who have followed carnivals for over a quarter of a century throughout the Caribbean.
Alumnus Giovanni Ortiz and Professor Rosario Torres presented a session on Latina/Latino Poetry and Literature, and Professor Ivelisse Rodriguez hosted a talk by playwright and literary scout Michael Mejias, who gave an insider’s view of what the publishing industry may be seeking, in the way of Latino authors.
Linking the month’s events to the classroom, professors Margaret Carson and Jose Haro hosted a faculty conversation on cross-cultural approaches to Latino studies, while professors Segundo Pantoja, Rosario Torres and Dixon Valderruten facilitated a book discussion, Don't Be Afraid of the Mountain.
“‘Embracing Differences' was our theme this year, and the range of events we presented for Hispanic History Month most definitely embraced the exciting range of art, music, film and literature that reflect today’s Latino experience,” said Professor Rosario Torres-Guevara.
“I think we all came away with a better understanding of how fluid and yet how historically grounded, Latino culture truly is.”