Shippensburg University’s Ceddia Union Building Multipurpose Room Wednesday evening was filled with dancing and salsa music as part of the celebration of Spanish Heritage Month.
“A Discussion on Latin Dance, Coupled with Lessons and a Dance Party” allowed students to interact with Latin cultures and dances.
The evening started off with a brief lecture by Wanda Holdren, a dance instructor and founder of the Wanda Holdren Dance Academy in Reading, Pennsylvania. She discussed the importance of culture and dance during her childhood in Puerto Rico.
“Cultures are very important. It’s a part of me. It’s being Puerto Rican,” Holdren said. “It’s who I am.”
Holdren has been dancing since she was 6 years old. She trained at the Julie Mayoral Dance Academy and participates in Latin dance styles such as salsa, merengue, bachata and tango.
She is the founder and director of Berks Salsa Fest and Latin Flair Inc.
From 2007 to 2010, Holdren served as an ambassador for the Hispanic Choice Awards. She was also nominated as a world salsa instructor in 2008.
After the 15-minute lecture, Holdren invited a student volunteer to come up on stage and participate in a traditional Puerto Rican dance. She encouraged him to do whatever his body feels to express.
SU student Ryan Krueger said, “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”
Holdren and Krueger danced a traditional Puerto Rican dance. Krueger wore a mask that would traditionally be used to scare away evil spirits at festivals.
After Holdren and Krueger’s dance, everyone was invited to the dance floor where participants learned simple steps for salsa dancing.
“These are universal steps. You can go anywhere in the world and dance with someone,” dance instructor Felix Mateo said.
Mateo, Holdren and Alex Frutos led Los Angeles-style salsa dance lessons with students.
All participants were taught a simple eight-count step, and by the end of the session participants were dancing with partners to music.
The event was sponsored by the Office of Social Equity, Human Understanding Committee, English department, Ethnic Studies Office, Multicultural Student Association Office and the Latino Student Organization.
The Department of Modern Languages’ next event will be an Immersive Cultural Event on Oct. 23 from 3:30–4:30 p.m.