WashU ALAS puts on 25th Annual Carnaval 

| Staff Writer

For the past several months, Washington University’s Association of Latin American Students (ALAS), has been preparing for its Carnaval celebration. Under two talented directors, a cast of dedicated performers, and the expertise of Edison Theatre’s production crew, the 25th anniversary of this show does not disappoint. Carnaval is a multi-day festival to celebrate Latin American culture and marks the beginning of Lent, the period of 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. The word for Lent in Spanish is Cuaresma, which comes from the word cuarenta, meaning forty, because Lent lasts for forty days (plus six Sundays, which are not counted). It is celebrated across the world, but holds special significance in Latin American countries. The celebration includes elaborate, glittery costumes, music, and dancing. It is a bright and joyous spectacle that WashU ALAS succeeds at emulating on stage in Edison Theatre.

Dancers smile brightly as the pose in the end (Isabella Diaz Mira | Student Life)

This year’s theme, Añoranza, directly translates to nostalgia. Framed within the narrative of a skit, Carnaval consists of a variety of dance and music acts, including Salsa, Mariachi Cuicacalli, a fashion show, and a senior dance for graduating members of the organization. Much like WashU’s similarly formatted Diwali and LNYF shows, Carnaval is a vibrant and spectacular showcase, offering a window into the holiday’s festivities through the performances of highly talented WashU students. 

Traditional costumes and colors represented on each dancer (Isabella Diaz Mira | Student Life)

The show opens with an introductory video, a welcome by the show’s co-directors, and the first scene of a narrative, touching on themes of belonging and growing up through the lens of Latin American culture. This narrative takes the place of an emcee, with the two acts of the show alternating between scenes from the narrative arc and performances from varying student groups. Being one of the most anticipated acts in Carnaval, Salsa is one of the most popular Latin dances that is today practiced worldwide. Salsa dance emerged in the Central American country of Cuba during the late 19th century and early years of the 20th century. Although the full origin of the term “Salsa” was never precisely identified, its earliest form is a Spanish term that means “spice.” In addition to Salsa is Mariachi Cuicacalli. Mariachi originated in 1519 in what is now Mexico. By 1800, Mariachi had evolved into festive dance music, where, during a rural fiesta for fandango, couples would dance sones (a measurement of sounds) and jarabes (instrumental songs). The typical Mariachi band today includes a violin, trumpet, guitar, and vihuela.

Extravagent headpieces are also shown in Carnaval (Isabella Diaz Mira | Student Life)

Carnaval has three upcoming shows this weekend, March 29 and 30, with tickets available on the Edison Theatre website. This completely student-run production is bright and lively and leaves audience members wanting more. Carnaval 2024 is definitely worth a watch.

(Isabella Diaz Mira | Student Life)

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