Latin dance for everyone

Phyllis Dodson continues her Latin dance classes this month on Thursdays, May 21 and 28, at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse. Classes are from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and cost $5. Drop-ins are welcome. Latin dance is sponsored by Elation Center for the Arts.

I asked Phyllis to describe for us some of her early dance experiences with a historical perspective on “Danzon” or Latin dance.

“Growing up in Texas, I was exposed to the Hispanic culture and always loved going to dances held after wedding ceremonies or Quinceneros which is the 15th birthday celebration for girls. In the early eighties I was exposed even more to the South Texas traditions of Tejano music and dance of that region and the Nortenos (Northern Mexico) music that was influenced by Czechs, Bohemians and the Germans who brought the accordion. This became a new interest for me and I sought out bands that played at dances and had a great time, particularly with the Polkas and Rancheras and Waltzes that were historically popular in rural communities and are still very popular in South Texas communities and the mainstay of south Texas dance bands. I began to learn about other rhythms like Schottisches, Haupangos, Cumbias (Columbia) and Salsa rhythms.

“There is a wide range of Latin dances that evolved from poor European cultures that fused with slaves dances and formed “Creole” and was imported into Latin America. These syncopated rhythms were adopted and are a feature of all Latin dancing or ‘Danzon.’ Other dance styles include Brazilian and Afro Brazilian Sambas, Merengue from the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the Cha Cha from both Cuba and West Africa which evolved from a form of the Mambo and the popular Salsa from Cuba and Puerto Rico that is danced to big band Latin music.

“Many of the rhythms or moves are similar but take on a different style or what I like to call the “personality” of the dance depending on the music. It is fun and easy and makes people feel happy and is why I am so attracted to Latin dance.”

Learn more about the “personality” of Latin dances in this easy and fun class. Beginners are welcome, and this also makes a great practice session for experienced dancers. No partner is needed.

Call Elation Center for the Arts at 731-3117 for more information.

Photo courtesy Carla Roberts
Phyllis Dodson continues her Latin dance classes this month on Thursdays, May 21 and 28 at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse. The classes are sponsored by Elation Center for the Arts.