‘La Vida Es Un Carnaval’ celebrates and educates

| Film Editor

This past weekend, the Association of Latin American Students presented its 16th annual Carnaval, “La Vida Es Un Carnaval.” Carnaval, a blended showcase of dances and skits, both celebrated Latin-American culture and pointed out intersectional issues prevalent in our society and the microcosm of Washington University. This year, the show went above and beyond by following four Latino “students,” Alondra, David, Jessica and Oscar, through their lives at Wash. U.

Ana Paula Shelley dances in the style of Lyrical Latin Fusion in a piece reflecting upon to the violence perpetrated in Iguala, Mexico and Latin America. Shelley also choreographed the dance.Mary Richardson | Student Life

Ana Paula Shelley dances in the style of Lyrical Latin Fusion in a piece reflecting upon to the violence perpetrated in Iguala, Mexico and Latin America. Shelley also choreographed the dance.

“When we became Carnaval chairs, we knew we had a huge opportunity to change what the show was about; we could tailor it to specific themes and topics that were relevant and important,” senior Cecilia Joy Perez and sophomore Alejandro Martinez, Carnaval’s co-chairs, said. “We chose intersectionality as our guiding theme due to its relevance on campus. In intersectionality, we were able to navigate and discuss multiple issues that Latinos go through every day.”

These intersectional issues included sexuality, the deportation of loved ones and cultural marginalization, among other themes.

“I hope that the audience can take away more awareness of the issues that Latinos face, even if it’s not something they may necessarily go through,” Joy Perez said. “Additionally, I hope that people can identify as well with those same struggles and understand that we, as Latinos, have to fight for our recognition in a place where there are so few of us.”

The skits were set at Wash. U. and included a depiction of an ALAS meeting, a fraternity party and a classroom.

In addition to the skits, the show featured 13 dances, each of a different Latino style. One number, the Lyrical Latin Fusion, paid tribute to the kidnapping of 43 teaching students in Iguala, Mexico in September 2014. In this piece, dancers in long, flowing skirts arabesqued around the stage until they were dragged away one by one by black-clad, masked figures. A poem, “Elegia interrumpida,” was read simultaneously, moving the audience emotionally. Eventually, there was no one left onstage besides the haunting absence of lives lost.

“Even though the piece was on the kidnappings in Ayotzinapa, I also wanted to reflect violence in Mexico and even Latin America in general,” senior Ana Paula Shelley, the piece’s choreographer, said. “That is why the ‘snatchers’ or kidnappers that came onstage were wearing all black and had veils. The songs also talked a little bit about hope, love and freedom as a contrast to the movements onstage that were more sad, and the kidnapping that was obviously very violent. The silence at the end was both so the audience could reflect and to represent the emptiness that is created when young people are the victims, when their lives are cut short.”

Over 100 students are involved in the making of Carnaval, from dancers to choreographers, actors to directors and everyone in between. Many students want to get involved in the event because of its collaborative nature and the opportunity it provides to learn about Latin American culture.

“It’s cool to go to lots of auditions and learn bits and pieces of different styles of dance,” junior Jess Rosenberg, who danced in this show as well as 2013’s, said. “Then being part of an actual dance is a really fun experience and gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of new people.”

Given that the two shows were sold out, Carnaval succeeded in its attempts to educate the audience on important Latin American issues. Hopefully, this will drive even more students to be further involved with Carnaval, ALAS and Latin American issues in the future.

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