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Luna Negra Dance Theatre is impresionante

By Arooj Ashraf, Cleveland Correspondent for La Prensa


Luna Negra Dance Theatre left audiences breathless and asking for more at the Ohio Theatre in Cleveland on February 3, 2007.


The company offered an inspirational program of fast-paced, captivating, and humorous performances that fused Latino culture, modern contemporary dance and outstanding talent into a dynamic theatre experience.

Veronica Guadalupe during  the performance of Quinceañera photographed by Kristie Kahns


“They are definitely a must go see,” says Jeanie Hall. “Nothing keeps your attention these days and this captured mine, its creative fun and fast,” she said. Hall is majoring in dance at Cleveland State University and said she would attempt some of the moves.


The eight-year-old Chicago based company is the brain child of Cuban born Eduardo Vilaro. His passion for his heritage and dance has created a spectacular union of visual splendor delivered to perfection by an outstanding group of performers.


Vilaro describes the performances as non linear that are open to interpretation by the viewer and hint to the complexities of life and culture. “We present a Latino voice through art, not stereotypes,” he said.


Vilaro skillfully cumulates the diversity of Latino culture and pays tribute to the Afro-Caribbean influences in Mi Corazón Negro (My Black Heart). “It’s a play on words,” he says of the duality in the name. The piece portrays the history of the African Diaspora, the sadness, the journey of healing and resurrection of hope. “I hope people can understand its depth,” he says.


 “The Last 12 Minutes” brought the crowd to its feet. The dramatic lighting, intense music and choreography by Ron De Jesús is spell bounding. It depicts a young woman’s final moments and her struggles to hold on and escape her inevitable death.


Vilaro says De Jesús was inspired by the loss of a dear friend and his mindset is reflected in the work. The piece is extremely fast paced and moving, “if you blink you’ll miss something,” Vilaro says. 


“’The Last 12 Minutes’ was by far my favorite,” says Hall. She adds it’s not meant to be fully understood but appreciated for its captivating emotions. 


Ricardo J. García describes his involvement with Luna Negra as a homecoming. The Puerto Rican native says Luna Negra’s mission spoke to his heart. He says he can express everything he wants to say about his heritage through his performances. García says Luna Negra has tremendous potential. “The company will take off and be huge and fantastic,” he says. 


Building bridges between cultures and promoting positive role models are important to Vilaro. He says moving to the United States was a difficult transitions and cultural events like Sweet Fifteen kept him grounded in the Latino culture and community.


Quinceañera is a humorous depiction of the coming of age celebration. It makes delightful references to the complexities of becoming a woman, from learning to wear heels to behaving like ladies. The dancers manage to remain elegant as they wobble on stage in their high heels.


Luna Negra hosts educational workshops to promote cultural identity, self awareness and high self esteem and serve over 9,000 students annually in the Chicago area. Vilaro likes working with youth and says the outreach programs use dance as a tool to expand minds, foster understanding and eliminate stereotypes. Dancers from Luna Negra lead six dance residencies at municipal schools in Cuyahoga, Summit, Elyria, and Lorain counties on Friday, February 2.


The company was presented by Dance Cleveland which is dedicated solely to the presentation of modern dance. The centerpiece of DANCECleveland’s programs, the annual concert series, and the additional array of social and educational events produced, break artistic boundaries and provide community access to the dance and dance luminaries that DANCECleveland brings to northeast Ohio. 


For more information on Luna Negra and their upcoming performances visit www.lunanegra.org.





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