Whole Music Club hosts Latin dance workshop

by Raiza Beltran

The hip-swinging, upbeat sounds of South America wafted through the Whole Music Club on Thursday evening.
Ricardo Nieva patiently showed dance steps to the salsa, a famous Latin American import, in the basement of Coffman Union on Thursday.
“It’s a very fun experience,” said Nieva, an economics graduate student. “I like to share my culture and show the native Latin dance.”
Nieva, a native of Peru, began the Latin Dance Workshop Series in spring 1998.
“At first, I didn’t think it was going to work. But a lot of people showed up,” he said.
Along with three of his former students, Nieva teaches various Latin dances, including the merengue, salsa and rhumba to about 50 attendees every Thursday in the Whole Music Club.
Gregory Hawkins, a University graduate, has attended several workshops.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “(Nieva’s) teaching style is easy to follow, and he is really knowledgeable in what he is doing.”
Nieva said he teaches Latin dancing performed in South America, not the version used by ballroom dancers.
“I teach (the type of Latin dancing) more original to its roots,” he said, adding that the posture and feeling is different from the stylized ballroom dance.
The workshop series is primarily funded by Culture Corps, a University program that offers international students a chance to teach other students about their international background.
Nieva said he has noticed that interest in Latin music has grown considerably in the United States.
“Right now, it’s something trendy, but I think this is something that will continue to grow,” Nieva said. “This is only the beginning.”
After Coffman Union closes next week, the series will continue at the Northstar Ballroom in the St. Paul Student Center. Workshops run from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

Raiza Beltran welcomes comments at rbeltran@daily.umn.edu. She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3221.