La Alianza aims to educate campus on Latino dance culture

By Carlos Cruz

Case Western Reserve University’s Latino cultural organization, La Alianza, kicks off La Fiesta. Photo taken by Carlos Cruz.

La Alianza is a Latino student organization that serves campus community, celebrates Latino culture, and supports Latino students at Case Western Reserve University.

On April 22 at 6 p.m., Latino student organization, La Alianza, sponsored their annual ¡Que Viva! La Fiesta cultural celebration at Case Western Reserve University’s Carlton Commons, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Eighteen La Alianza members originized to put on a show that would attempt to educate their campus community on the cultural roots of Latino music and dance styles. By splitting up into teams, the group was able to perform choreographies on a multitude of Latino dance styles while explaining the genres cultural roots

The show began with all La Alianza members storming the floor dressed in clothes while waving flags representing each country the students’ origins stems from. The sound of Cuban rap-star Pitbull’s single We Are One feat. Jennifer Lopez & Claudia Leitte overcame the room as the performers began waving their flags side-to-side in unison with the music, immediately engaging the crowd with the performance.

While the audience loudly applauded the colorful introduction, members left the floor to change clothes for the next act.

After about five minutes, seven La Alianza members took the floor in new cultural wear to introduce the history of salsa, a dance style originating from Carribean islands Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.

Through multiple rapid twists and turns, the audience cheered on the performers for displaying the style in a respectful and culturally sound fashion. Members danced to music infused with the sound of traditional instruments such as the African drums and Spanish guitar rhythms.

According to a 2016 article by Tijana Ilich on, “This type of musical hybridization gave birth to the 1950s creation of the mambo from son, conjunto and jazz traditions. Continuing musical fusion went on to include what we know today as the cha cha cha, rhumba, conga, and, in the 1960s, salsa.” The music La Alianza elected to play showed the audience what musical hybridization looks like through the form of salsa dancing.

“They actually did a great job with the dance. I didn’t think they would be that good,” said Mikayla Ortiz, president of John Carroll University’s Latin American Student Association. “All this dancing makes me want to dance now.”

La Alianza members show off their merengue skills for ¡Que Viva! La Fiesta. Photo taken by Carlos Cruz.

La Alianza also informed audience members of merengue, a Dominican dance style and cumbia, a Colombian dance style adopted by Central American and Mexican cultures.

Xavier Murillo, president of La Alianza and graduating senior at Case Western Reserve University, concluded ¡Que Viva! La Fiesta by passing on the presidential torch and congratulating Justine Bernacet, a rising senior at CWRU, on her presidential election victory.

Brenan Betro, director of communications for John Carroll University’s Latin American Student Association, asked, “How long did it take you to put all of this together? You worked well together.”

Murillo laughed and responded, “To be honest we were very close to killing each other. The stress of choreographing a show this large is a pretty daunting task.”

Melany Da Silva also responded to Betro’s question, “Honestly one more week and I probably would have exploded. I’m glad everyone had fun though. It looks like we put on a good show.”


Brenan Betro, director of communications for JCU LASA and rising junior

Melany Da Silva, member of CWRU La Alianza and graduating senior

Mikayla Ortiz, president of JCU LASA and rising senior

Xavier Murillo, former-president of CWRU La Alianza and graduating senior

The History of Salsa Music — ThoughtCo

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