Lee Celebration Features Food, Dance

FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 23, 2010) – A theatrical dance performance by the award-winning Latin Ballet of Virginia is among the promised highlights of an Oct. 6 Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration at the Fort Lee Theater on Mahone Avenue. The month-long observance runs from mid-September to mid-October.

Starting at 11 a.m., the two-hour program will also feature an opening presentation about the history and the essence of the Hispanic heritage and an opportunity to sample foods that represent a variety of Latin cultures. Menu items include maduros (fried plantains), masitasa de puerco (cooked pork), pollo saltado fajita (cooked chicken), tres leches (tri-milk cake) and much more. Admission to the celebration is free and open to the public.

During the Latin Ballet of Virginia segment of the program, five professional dancers will perform excerpts of “Baile y Rumba,” a leaping and spinning showcase that incorporates glamorous Hispanic-influenced costumes and introduces a variety of high-energy dance styles including the salsa, cumbia and merengue.

“The rumba is the fiesta,” according to a description found on the dance company’s Web site: www.latinballet.com. “It is the music, singing and dancing that make up a party.”

Don’t be surprised if the Latin Ballet dancers invite audience members up on the stage during the program … it’s a common element of their show, and it reflects the group’s mission of preserving and promoting Latin American and Spanish cultures. The Richmond-based company teaches and performs professionally for diverse audiences in North and South America. In addition to its four original stage productions each year, it provides culturally diverse classes for Hispanic and minority at-risk children and increases access to the arts for low-income families.

In 2004, the dance company received the Jane J. Baskerville Award for Best Community Educational Program for the Chesterfield County Public Schools. Two years later, the local Public Broadcast Station showcased a Latin Ballet program titled “Danza & Passion.” The dance company’s latest season includes a variety of shows. Additional details can be found on the Latin Ballet Web site.

The theme of the 2010 Hispanic Heritage Month observance is Heritage, Diversity, Integrity and Honor: The Renewed Hope of America.

According to the U. S. Census Bureau, there are more than 41 million people of Hispanic origin in the United States today. Their heritage includes the countries of Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and the Spanish-speaking nations in Central and South America.

Former President Lyndon B. Johnson was responsible for the first Hispanic Heritage Week celebration in 1968. It was expanded to a month-long observance in 1988. The time of the celebration was selected to coincide with the dates on which many Latin American countries commemorate their independence.

Anyone from the local community who would like to attend the program is reminded that a valid government-issued picture ID card is required for access to the installation. Those without a Department of Defense sticker on their vehicle must enter post through the Lee Avenue visitor access gate and present proof of vehicle insurance and registration.

For more information, call (804) 734-6496.