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‘Latin Dance Spectacular’ warms the night

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UTAH HISPANIC DANCE ALLIANCE, "Latin American Dance Spectacular," Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Saturday.

Saturday night, a bunch of people took a tour to Latin America and never left their seats in the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

For the fifth year, the Utah Hispanic Dance Alliance presented it's "Latin Dance Spectacular" to an appreciative audience. The music, the costumes, the sets and, of course, the dancing were combined into one hot celebration on a cold and rainy autumn night.

Images of Mexico, El Salvador, Chile, Colombia and Argentina galloped across the stage as the 30 dancers offered a bit of their ancestral culture.

Other countries represented included Paraguay, Guatemala and Bolivia.

Traditional colorful costumes highlighted the movements as scarves, shawls, shells, bells and hats were shaken, wrapped, clanked and tossed throughout the evening.

The men were strong and stoic as they stomped in time with the folk music that was at times played live and other times prerecorded.

Accompanying the men were the women, who were at times playful, seductive and charming.

All the dancing was enjoyable to watch, but there were a couple of standouts.

The Mexican polka, which was imported from Europe to northern Mexico, was full of energy, precision and playfulness. The couple seemed tireless as they romped across the stage and showed each other off to the whooping audience.

As for the second-act highlight, the Argentine chacarera, which is traditionally danced by the country's cowboys, was strong and graceful as the men and women danced together.

The Trio Argentino Manantial Band — German Wachtendorff, Luis Fredes and Luis Ulloa — provided some joyful music while the sets were changed. And then the more Latin-folk sounds of the Chasquis Andean Band — Edwin Roman, Alvary Arias, David Arancidia and Mario Gonzales — rose from the orchestra pit and the musicians belted out flute, pan pipe and acoustic music that brought to mind the mountains of Chile and Bolivia.

All in all the production of the Latin American Dance Spectacular kept the audience wondering what colorful costumes, dance steps and festive music would next emerge onto the stage.

UHDA's executive artistic director Jessica Salazar has a gem in her hands. And if the careful nurturing of the past five years continues, the company will blossom even more.

E-mail: scott@desnews.com