Ana Gaby Pareja-Alfaro, Colorado College alumnus and the current Spanish Cultural Program Coordinator introduced Latin dance classes to CC three years ago. After a childhood of loving to dance, and choreographing a few dance pieces in high school, Pareja-Alfaro started her formal study of Latin dance in 2014. She gained experience in several dance academies in Costa Rica, and earned certification in instruction and choreography before attending CC.
Pareja-Alfaro created CC’s Latin dance class when she was a student, with the intention of celebrating part of her culture after moving away from her home in Costa Rica. “I started the class initially because I felt like there were a lot of dancing opportunities at CC, yet there was no Latin dance,” said Pareja-Alfaro. “I wanted to share my culture and share the skills that I knew with others. I also wanted to allow all the students who come from Latin backgrounds to enjoy part of their culture.”
In order to incorporate the perspectives of her students, Pareja-Alfaro asks them which rhythms they would like to work on before their next class together. The class focuses on a variety of Latin rhythms like salsa, merengue, bachata, bolero, swing criollo, and tango. After considering the interests of her students, Pareja-Alfaro choreographs a set of steps or dances to work on.
Pareja-Alfaro views the class as an outlet for her Latinx class members to get in touch with their cultural backgrounds. Danny Zamudio ’21 speaks to the value of this experience. “Dancing was a big part of my family and school life back home. It’s probably the thing I miss the most… besides tortas,” Zamudio said. “The class gives me a chance to enjoy my heritage with other people. It’s a slice of home when you’re away for so long.”
While Pareja-Alfaro finds the connection between her Latin dance class and the Latinx community at CC, she believes there could be more of a relationship. Last school year, the dance class choreographed a piece for a SOMOS party; Pareja-Alfaro would like to organize bigger events for the rest of the CC community. Pareja-Alfaro has a vision to organize an event that showcases the work of the dancers this semester.
Zamudio hopes that the Latin dance class can become an adjunct, and hopes it can be more prevalent on campus. With these sentiments, Pareja-Alfaro and Zamudio hope to promote the class more, and encourage more students to join. These Latin dance classes are taught every Monday and Wednesday from 7-8 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room in CC’s Adam F. Press Fitness Center. All students are welcome!