Latino dance troupe celebrates milestone

October 1, 2009 The Luna Negra Dance Theater is Chicago's premiere Latino-infused contemporary dance company. The ensemble made up of twelve dancers practice from nine to five daily and then on to the gym to workout and keep the body in shape. Puerto Rican dancer Elise, 23, drew is in command of her moves and body as she practices for upcoming performances. Drew says being a dancer takes total commitment and stamina.

"The grueling hours wear and tear on body and mental preparation and artistic criticism is a constant pull between excitement and concern," said Elise Drew, Luna Negra dancer.

Ricardo Garcia Cruz lives to dance and to perform. The elegant dancer believes in taking respecting his body. He says nothing compares to being on stage performing.

"There isn't anything out there that can compare to the accolades you get after finishing a performance," said Garcia Cruz, Luna Negra dancer.

The dancers are committed to being the very best. They perform around the world for audiences.

"We dance in 20 minutes, break for 15, dance 20 minutes more, we're changing our hair, it's ongoing. We're like these little robots," said Drew.

"We get to visit the world through our dance and we get to get a career through our dance. It's a learning journey," said Garcia Cruz.

Luna Negra Dance Theater is celebrating their 10th anniversary by showcasing Latino talent with performance on October 9th and 10th at the Harris Theater.

Cuban born Eduardo Vilaro is the founder of Luna Negra. He says the mission of the company is to present the work of Latino choreographers living in the united states . The dancers do not need to be Latino.

"We need to talk, see, experience, expose, we need to ask questions. Why? Why do you do that? Why do you do that movement? Where is that music from? And in that exploration we start viewing each other with a more human quality and also with a connection of cultural heritage," said Vilaro.

The mission is to educate, expose and explore Latino cultures. It keeps dialogue open and helps us to view each other with more human quality.

Vilaro says Luna Negra is the only company in the country committed to present, create and teach dance by Latino choreographers. The company looks forward to their second decade in Chicago.

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