The rebirth of Dale Duro Latin Dance Company

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Jonah Elkowitz/The Daily Northwestern

Dale Duro Latin Dance Company hosts its first in-person spring show since 2019.

Sterling Ortiz, Senior Staffer

Dale Duro Latin Dance Company is back to perform in-person for the first time since 2019, serving as a home for dancers and non-dancers alike.

After two years of lying low during the pandemic, Dale Duro lies on the precipice of becoming the major player in Latine and dance societies at Northwestern that its members always wanted to be.

Co-presidents and Weinberg seniors Jimena Collado and Nicole Villalba said they found a community in Dale Duro, a constant through their entire college experience.

“I was interested in helping build this new organization that would become a space for Latinx students,” Villalba, an Ecuadorian student from northern New Jersey, said. “A space also for people who are interested in learning about Latin dance and Latin culture.”

Collado, who was born in Puebla, Mexico before moving to Cancún, and later to Illinois for high school, held that same energy when speaking about her leadership experience.

She said one of the highlights of her time in Dale Duro has been her connections with a variety of Latines at Northwestern.

“I didn’t really know what I was getting into, but it ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made,” Collado said. “I truly find meeting people from all of these different diverse cultures and diverse Latinx backgrounds really valuable and really rewarding. They all bring something different to the table, in dances and otherwise.”

SESP senior Arianna Ponce joined Dale Duro in winter 2019, and said she was drawn to the organization’s focus on dancing.

Ponce grew up around Latin music as a half Filipina, half Mexican woman in Brighton Park, a Chicago neighborhood with a Latine supermajority population. She said she wanted an opportunity to dance to the music she grew up with.

“I wanted to dance. I wanted to perform. I wanted to grow as a dancer,” Ponce said. “And I do think that I greatly achieved that in Dale Duro.”

Ponce said she also took a liking to how Dale Duro’s leaders pushed her to overcome her perceived limitations as a dancer. She recalled one instance when Collado urged Ponce to lead the dance from the front row, which she said gave her a confidence boost.

After its first show in spring 2019, Dale Duro prepared an even bigger show for spring 2020. Medill junior Maria Caamaño Garcia, a Dominican born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, found Dale Duro in fall 2019 because she wanted a place where she could connect with fellow Latine students on campus.

“The first thing I asked one of them was, ‘Why should I join?’” Caamaño Garcia said. “One of the founders said, ‘I met the bestest friends and family in this group. I found my place on campus.’ I was like, “That is exactly what I want.’”

Dale Duro never performed its spring 2020 show due to COVID-19. The group adapted to a virtual performance for its spring 2021 show.

Last academic year, Villalba and Collado formally assumed their roles as co-presidents. While this transition was harder than expected due to the pandemic, they said the close bonds within the group made all the challenges worth it.

“Once you love a community so much, you also feel this sense of responsibility,” Collado said. “I want to try to make this community the best it can be, trying to provide the best experience we can for our members.”

Villalba said she felt this increase in responsibility was a natural progression. She echoed Collado’s sentiments and talked about her responsibility to teach new executive members about Dale Duro customs, so the organization can prepare for a strong future.

Dale Duro will host its spring show on Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 9 p.m. at Ryan Family Auditorium. Tickets are on sale through Norris Box Office and must be purchased prior to the show.

“Dale Duro will dance a lot of the same styles that we’ve always had, including bachata, salsa and reggaeton.” Villalba said. “We’ve added a new style called champeta, and we have Brazilian funk as well.”

Caamaño Garcia said she looks forward to sharing her dance and choreography with the NU community.

“If you had asked me four years ago when I was in high school if I was going to choreograph, I would have literally laughed. I would have been like, ‘No, there’s no way in hell,’” Caamaño Garcia said. “But now, I’m doing it. It’s honestly one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”

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