At Montgomery County’s 16th annual Latin Dance Competition at the Strathmore Music Center, cries of the past and hints at the future were heard in the array of Latin music. Sponsored by Baila4Life!, the competition is a tribute to Latin (Hispanic, Latino, and Brazilian) heritage, and the competitors surely danced for their lives.
The night kicked off with some Cha-Cha, which has its roots in the West Indies. Its name stems from plants that locals call “cha-cha”s. These plants hold seeds that are sometimes used to make maraca-like rattles, which are also known as cha-chas.
The night continued as competitors danced to merengue, which is near to the heart of many Dominican people, considered the island’s national dance. The dance is thought to have originated during the times of the Spanish-American War, and there are two very interesting explanations of how it came about. One is that slaves were chained together and thus had to drag one leg as they danced to the beat of a drum while cutting sugar cane. Another major interpretation is that a war hero during one of the revolutions in the Dominican Republic was injured when he came home, and when the villagers welcomed him with a party, they all danced limping like him out of pity.
Then the competition turned to Bachata. The music for the Bachata dance was censored by the Dominican government until the early 1980s due to its sexual implicitness. Also known as the “forbidden dance,” competitors danced to what the MC referred to as the “PG-13 versions” of the dance.
Salsa came next. Although its origins are heatedly debated, the most likely explanation suggests that it originated on the island of Cuba, taking its roots from the African and Spaniard presences in the small nation. It then later flew over the waters to Puerto Rico, where it became highly popularized.
The four main dances were followed by several other competitions, including parent & son/daughter, alumni, and jack & jill dances. All of the competition results are posted below.
It was an amazing night of fun and dance. However, some resounding questions are left unanswered with regards to bias in the event.
At least one of the judges has been affiliated with the competition for over four years. The methodology used to judge contestants for categorical competitions has not been released to the public. For example, the categorical title “Best in Show” is often interpreted to mean best overall performance. However, the title is actually highly based on a group performance where all the students from each team come on stage to showcase a variety of dances. Is it based on overall performance or the group dance competition? How do the judges score the category? Albert Einstein HS has taken the trophy for ‘Best in Show: Senior Division’ four times in a row.
Einstein took the stage after winning the coveted trophy as the crowd cheered. All in all, it was a great night, and a great showcase of the Latin culture that thrives in the blood of many MCPS students and the Latin music that has inspired generations of people.
Article by MoCo Student Opinions Editor Darian Garcia of Richard Montgomery High School
Parent & Son/Daughter:
Junior Division Best in Show:
Senior Division Best in Show: