Music notes high and low rolled out from the piano, falling softly on the ears of the gaping crowd in the dimly lit Lory Student Center Theater.
Classical pianist Frankie Ramirez, a student at Preston Junior High School, was just one of over 10 acts who performed Thursday night at the seventh annual Evening of Music, Dance, and Fashion. The event marked the final presentation in the 2008 CSU Diversity Conference, sponsored by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.
Rich Salas, the assistant director for El Centro Student Services, said this year’s event, part of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, focused on local talent with an emphasis on Hispanic youth.
Acts included a sixth grade violinist, meringue dancers sporting pink plaid outfits, a family of traditional Hispanic dancers, gospel singers, a fashion show and even a bluesy, acoustic Led Zeppelin tune.
The Tex-Mex pop group Los Curitas was the featured performer.
“It went pretty good. Especially that dude,” said performer Desmond Donovan, gesturing toward the Los Curitas 16-year-old singer, Juaquin Cura.
Cura himself was more modest, saying he thought his performance was “pretty good actually.”
“It’s a good feeling up on stage,” Cura added.
Performers hailed from 15 different schools and three different universities and included people from age seven onward.
“It’s wonderful to have a turnout and focus on the young people,” Salas said.
Reception for the performers was positive, and applause filled the theater following each performance.
“I really liked a lot of the acts,” said freshman microbiology major Krysta Atkinson. “It’s my first cultural event, and I thought it was good.”
Salas emphasized Ramirez’s performance on the piano in particular.
“Whew. Incredible.” Salas said, “He could be the next big thing in New York.”
The performers and audience alike agreed that the event was successful in bringing Hispanic culture to CSU.
“I think it’s an awesome way to raise awareness and recognize the contributions of the Hispanic community in the United States,” Salas said.
“It’s what we’re all about.” Cura added. “Hispanic culture has a lot of music. It’s really fun, and people like to have fun.”
Atkinson echoed the young singer’s sentiments.
“It’s really beneficial. It’s something that shows the culture of Hispanics, and it’s a lot of fun,” she said.
While Salas said the performances certainly help to raise awareness of Hispanic customs, those elements of culture are “just the tip of the iceberg.”
“[These performances] plant a seed for others to become curious as to the connection between all of us human beings,” Salas said.
Salas said the best part about such events is the opportunity they provide to young people in the community and the encouragement they give to students seeking an education.
“Young people need opportunities. Opportunities plant the seed.” Salas said, “You can sing and dance, but go out and get that degree.”
Staff writer Jim Sojourner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: Jim Sojourner’s Friday article “Cultural dances honor Hispanic heritage” incorrectly identified Assistant Director Rich Salas as the director of El Centro Student Services. Lupe Salazar is the director of the program.