FIU’s Latin American Dance Club welcomes all dancing enthusiasts

Students dance in the GC pitStudents learn to dance with the Latin American Dance Club at the GC Pit | Kaysea Suzana, PantherNOW

FIU’s brand new Latin American Dance Club invites students to enjoy the art of dance.

In over just two weeks of the club’s existence, the general membership of the club rose to 173 participants.

President and FIU Interdisciplinary Engineering major Jared Rivera founded the LADC at the beginning of the 2023 Fall semester. 

“When it came to registering for the club, I had some of my friends help and join me. We all come from different cultures, some from Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and more. What united us was our want to learn more about our backgrounds and to showcase it,” Rivera said.

Rivera’s first-hand experience with the surrounding culture and his passion for the dancing arts motivated him to start the club.

“It started around COVID. I fled to Puerto Rico from the US, although I’m originally from [Puerto Rico]. I’ve always had a specific passion for the music of the Caribbean, specifically Puerto Rico,”said Rivera. 

“People here in the US, unlike back home, don’t know how to dance nor have a culture for it. Yet, there are a lot of people who want to learn how to dance.”

Vice president and senior computer science major Angie Martinez also spoke on the importance of  dance in culture.

“We want to share a part of our culture, especially with Hispanic Heritage month coming up [in September]. We’ve had people who had an interest in salsa and other dances and we wanted to teach them as well,” Martinez said.

LADC has also partnered with larger organizations and studios such as Salsa Kings, and Rivera comments that they “hope to work with Salsa Onyx, and Mi Salsa Dance Studios.” 

Rivero mentioned that collaboration with the studios would help the club explore new facets of the dances they practice, such as Cuban-style salsa, or casino.

LADC hosted a dance event at the Graham Center pit on Aug. 30, with many students stopping by to watch or even join in on the lessons. 

(Check out footage of the event below!)

Despite the rapid growth of the club and the incorporation of bigger studios, all meetings and lessons remain free. Rivera emphasizes that the club is “not looking to be competitive, [they’re] looking to have fun.” 

Rivera mentions that the club has future endeavors to teach cumbia, a dance from Colombia, different styles of bachata from the Dominican Republic, rancheros from Mexico, and tango from Argentina. 

Instructor and representative for the E-board Bridgette Avila mentions the pleasant surprise it was to see such a high membership turn-out

“I had no idea so many people would be interested in dancing. That many people my age want to learn merengue, bachata, etc.”

Avila, who has been dancing since she was eleven, has developed a passion for teaching the style to other students despite the difficulties of being a mentor.

“Finding a way to teach is the greatest difficulty. To look for a way to help everyone learn at the same pace is a challenge, and trying to teach so one won’t be too behind if they miss a class has proven difficult,” Avila said.

Avila expressed  how her teaching style changed since she began mentoring. 

“I thought I was going to be a perfectionist, but I realized how happy the students are to be there and to have just gotten some of the steps in,” said Avila.

“I connect with them, I see them enjoy the music and it reminds me of myself.” 

Martinez shared what the art of Latin American dancing meant to her. 

“Powerful. Spiritual. Engaging. Social. Inspiring and inclusive. These are the words that define Latin American dancing culture,” said Martinez.

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