Cinco de Mayo festival: Latin culture envelops campus

A local dance troupe performs, using traditional Mexican dress and dancing, at ULV for the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration. Ballet Folklorico Xochiquetzal, based in Fontana and taking its name from an ancient Aztec word meaning "pluming flower," is directed by Georgia Isela Mercado. The troupe's next performance entitled "Por amor a Mi Tierra," will take place in the Citrus College Auditorium June 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10. / photo by Rhidian Maehl
A local dance troupe performs, using traditional Mexican dress and dancing, at ULV for the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration. Ballet Folklorico Xochiquetzal, based in Fontana and taking its name from an ancient Aztec word meaning “pluming flower,” is directed by Georgia Isela Mercado. The troupe’s next performance entitled “Por amor a Mi Tierra,” will take place in the Citrus College Auditorium June 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10. / photo by Rhidian Maehl

by Erica Aguilar
Editorial Assistant

In honor of the celebration for Cinco de Mayo, the University of La Verne held an afternoon and evening full of Latin art displays, food, dancing and live music this past Monday, May 5.

With booth displays, such as Café con Libros and the Hemp Shak, students were able to view or purchase the work of multicultural artists.

Café con Libros is a new coffee and book store located in Pomona. Both of the owners, ULV alumnae Patricia De Robles and Adelaida Bautista, opened the store one month ago and are teachers.

“Our emphasis, or focus, is on books for children and women written in English and Spanish,” said De Robles.

The Hemp Shak also provided a first look at items such as patches, purses, sandals, lip balm and even soap made of hemp.

Owner Mark Hornaday said, “The Hemp Shak is the first exclusive hemp store in southern California, located in Claremont.”

By 4:45 p.m., a Mexican dinner was served and the ULV Jazzrockfunklatinobluesband performed in the Quad between Founders Hall and Miller Hall. The entrées cooked for evening dining were enchiladas, tamales, taquitos, rice and beans.

After dinner, a live dancing group named Ballet Folklorico Xochiquetzal performed to different Latin songs.

Jennifer Verax, a freshman at Chaffey College, said, “I have been dancing since I was 6 years old and have actually been with this group since the early 1980s. We dance for weddings, baptisms, school dances and basically for any celebration.”

“The dancers were bright and colorful. But most of all, they dance gracefully to sounds of Mexican music that I enjoyed watching,” said freshman Mike Hernandez.

Another exciting part of the evening began at 7:30 p.m. when Barrio Mario and his Pimpin’ Posse opened up before the Drum Festival Concert, hosted by Dr. Reed Gratz, professor of music.

Senior Mario Lopez, along with bassist Alex Martinez, guitarist Raul Aguayo and Steve Tashjian on drums, performed “Stargazer,” an original composition written by Lopez, a music major.

They also played their own version of “Black Magic Woman,” which was originally written by Carlos Santana.

“When I perform live, I’m not thinking at all about what I’m doing. I just play and it makes everything a lot easier when we’re on stage,” said Tashjian, a junior at Cal State Long Beach, who has played with the band one year.

Keyboardist Gratz, bassist and alumnus Andrew Ford (’82), guitarist Mike O’Neill, saxophonist Brandon Fields, drummer and percussionist Bob Dominguez and the famous Alex Acuña, also on drums and percussion, played for nearly two hours.

“I came to the concert because I like jazz and I wanted to see Andrew Ford play. I was happy to see that the place was full,” said Jim Paschal, director of athletics.

A wide variety of songs, like “Our Father,” “Night Delusion,” “Georgia,” “St. Thomas” and “Cocktail,” were played by the band to an almost full capacity crowd of students and faculty in Founders Auditorium.

Acuña has worked with many artists, such as Diana Ross, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney and Barbra Streisand. He was born and raised in Lima, Peru, and has lived in the United States since 1974. He has also performed on more than three dozen film soundtracks.

Sophomore Jessica Hunter said, “I really enjoyed the concerts; I was impressed by all the talent.”

“I called my favorite musicians to come and perform. I think it was a good experience for everyone that came. I always think it is good to do a concert with returning alumni from ULV,” said Dr. Gratz.

Part of the day’s festivities included two afternoon percussion clinics led by Dominguez and Acuña.

Much of the day was funded by support from the Irvine Foundation grant. It is one of 13 such grants awarded to faculty and departments to raise issues of diversity on the campus.

“I wish more students would’ve got more involved during the day, but overall, I think everyone had a lot of fun,” said Lopez.

Drummer Alex Acuña and guitarist Mike O'Neill perform in a concert for the Cinco de Mayo festival sponsored by the Irvine Foundation, Zildjian Cymbals, Ontario Music and ULV. Other concert participants included Bob Dominguez on percussion, saxophonist Brandon Fields, bassist Andrew Ford and Professor of Music Reed Gratz on keyboard. / photo by Rhidian Maehl
Drummer Alex Acuña and guitarist Mike O’Neill perform in a concert for the Cinco de Mayo festival sponsored by the Irvine Foundation, Zildjian Cymbals, Ontario Music and ULV. Other concert participants included Bob Dominguez on percussion, saxophonist Brandon Fields, bassist Andrew Ford and Professor of Music Reed Gratz on keyboard. / photo by Rhidian Maehl
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