If ever a little hard work and determination made a real difference, it would have been at Brandeis Latinx Student Organization’s (BLSO) first ever cultural event, “Incendio.” The blood, sweat and tears of the E-board were apparent upon first entering through Levin Ballroom’s doors at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22—from the glimmering out-of-this-world decorations to the cute table decorations, it was immediately obvious that the title “Incendio” was more than fitting for this event. After all, everything about the gathering was positively lit, and those attending couldn’t help but feed off the radiating flames.
A two hour event, “Incendio” showcased the talents of 12 vibrant performers who celebrated their own individual cultural experiences. Ranging from heartfelt poetry to singing to the sultry swaying of salsa dancing, the night was full of diverse talents from people whose experiences are not typically heard. As a person not from that background, it was a pleasure to get a bird’s eye view into another person’s culture, to learn about traditions, dishes and a language I do not usually experience and to fully open my heart in a setting that encouraged that transaction.
To open “Incendio,” the first performer Sanin Dosa ’20 managed to figuratively litter the stage with gasoline before lighting the match, erupting the platform in flames with his short introduction followed by break dance moves. As he detailed his relationship with dance over the years, recounting his deep dislike of the art of dance, Dosa said that a conversation with his mother changed his point of view. According to his mother, he would never find a girl if he didn’t know how to dance. Since that conversation, he has learned not one, but seven different types of dance. To Dosa’s bewilderment, however, he still remains single. His break dance moves were incredibly hypnotic and appeared to require a good deal of balance, coordination and strength. Dosa’s ability to feel the music while spinning in circles was so otherworldly, it looked almost inhuman.
Shaquan McDowell ’18, an attendee of the event, found the occasion monumental in its importance and enjoyed the acts overall. “They’re really talented and it gave them an opportunity to express their culture in a way that’s never been able to be done at Brandeis.” He went on to say that, “One reason I came is because I wanted to be supportive of them but I also wanted to just see the Latino/Latina culture on campus as it hasn’t been able to be displayed beforehand.”
Another notable performer was the Platinum Step Team, which as usual managed to impress with synchrony and inventive choreography. Each group member, including those recently inducted, has an amazing presence on stage, as though brimming over the edge with power and authority. Platinum Step Team also comes off very egalitarian, in that no one person in the group takes center stage—each person is given the spotlight at different points. Additionally, their finesse in making sounds with different body parts is almost sublime, always leaving the audience in suspense and wanting more.
Carmen Landaverde ’19, who is a member of BLSO’s E-board and was an emcee for the show, was very enthusiastic when she said, “It was amazing, and it still hasn’t hit me that we did this. It’s the start and it’s going to happen not just this year, but it’s going to be an every year type of thing.” When reflecting on how the event went, Carmen mentioned, “The turnout was amazing, the food was good, the music played, the lights could have been a little better but you know, you have to have a flaw somewhere.”
Though the event was on fire throughout, if anything could be improved for the future, the lighting could be more organized. There were points when lighting was required, but it took a while for the lights to turn on and vice versa. Even so, it didn’t seriously detract from the show in the least. Some of the performers and emcees seemed anxious and on edge, as though they were very concerned they might mess up. Honestly, they had nothing to worry about—for the first ever BLSO cultural event, this was practically on fire!
Brandeis’ very own Salseros placed three “couples” front and center, and their mastery of the steps, ability to feel the beat and enjoyment of the routine was legendary. Body rolls galore, the more romantic and sensual aspects of salsa were featured in this specific routine. Consuelo Pereira-Lazo ’19 read a poem she had written about the immense pride she feels for her culture, which was all the more impactful because of her vulnerability at the mic. Toxic also wowed with a complicated routine featuring glamorous movements that showcased the strength of the dancers.
“This event was like a seed that we thought of last year.” Landaverde continued, saying, “Last year, when it was still AHORA, we needed more stuff happening on this campus that has to do with the Latin voice because we didn’t hear it, I didn’t see it my [first] year.” When one person has a dream, especially one that involves a more inclusive world, that ambition is absolutely within reach.