Harmony facilitated through Latino Heat

Karina Benson, a&e editor

They might not have the catch phrase of De La Cru or the sparkly uniforms of Bhangra Beatz, but they still have passion and skill. For the past eight years, South’s dance group Latino Heat has created numerous dances ranging from the Dominican Republic’s Bachata to Colombia’s Cumbia. Brian Shaoul, transitional studies teacher, has been the sponsor of Latino Heat for seven years and believes the group has grown in both popularity as well as opportunity. According to Shaoul, the group has to work hard from the time they start in August until the end of the season after the Variety Show in February.

“I want them to take pride in what they do,” Shaoul said. “They work so hard. They start in August and they [are constantly] working for the dance show that’s in December. It then goes right into V-Show tryouts. It’s very, very difficult to prepare for these [big dances] and be successful.”

Yulissa Gonzalez, senior and co-leader, says her goal for this year was to make more people see Latino Heat as a part of South’s community. This past year was the first time Latino Heat performed at the Pep Rally, according to Gonzalez, and the first time in eight years that their act was chosen to be in V-Show previews.

“My goal for Latino Heat is to make ourselves known,” Gonzalez said. “I think we’ve kind of been pushed aside a little bit because the two major dance groups are De La Cru and Poms. My goal [is for Latino Heat] to be seen.”

Similarly, Senior and co-leader Natalia Ramirez says something that people may not know about Latino Heat is how closely knit the group is. Ramirez also says that it can be difficult to find an even number of boys and girls to be a part of Latino Heat, but a balanced number is necessary given their partner style of dancing.

“At the beginning of the year we see more girls [try out] but then we try to get some guys,” Ramirez said. “[Not all guys] like to dance, but there are some guys out there that really do, so we appreciate them coming and trying out.”

Some aspects of Latino Heat that Gonzalez says the group has been focusing on in particular this year are the styles of dancing and the types of music the group chooses. According to Shaoul, in the past the group was known to perform Bachata, a slightly slower dance that originated in the Dominican Republic, while in this year’s V-Show, their dance was from the genre of Reggaeton.

“It’s something that’s different,” Shaoul said. “We were known for doing Bachata and we wanted to kind of get away from that. We wanted to do something totally different, something that we don’t normally do.”

Along with the dancing, according to Gonzalez, comes a strong sense of community. With a season lasting from August until the end of February, the group spends nearly seven months together choosing music, creating dances and having fun. For this year’s V-Show, Gonzalez says their dance was tied to the theme “Illuminate” by more than just their shining costumes.

“We’re also just trying to illuminate our culture and who we are through our dancing and through the music we’re dancing to,” Gonzalez said. “We’re definitely trying to bring the Latino culture into GBS and into the community and to show people that, ‘Hey, there are Latinos in this community too.’”