Hispanic Heritage Month: Suave Profile

Sofia Bonilla ’25 in Arts | October 14, 2022

The diversity in Lawrenceville’s cultural life can be seen in various forms: the wide variety affinity groups on campus, unique feeds that incorporate cuisines from across the globe, and even within Lawrenceville’s very own dance teams. For Hispanic Heritage Month, Allison Calderon ’24, captain of the Latinx-style dance team Suave, reflected on how her culture has been intertwined with the arts throughout her time at Lawrenceville. 
Though Calderon juggles many different roles and responsibilities in her day-to-day life at Lawrenceville, she shared that Suave is “an open space…and really where [she] found her place in school.” She commented on her desire to replicate the dance community that was fostered last year, cultivating an environment of being “one big Suave family.”
Suave is an outlet for students in the Latinx community to find solace and explore their culture, but it is also open to anyone who is curious and willing to try something new. According to Calderon, the majority of last year’s members were not actually members of the Latinx community. These students’ openness led them to new experiences, as they listened to new music and danced in new styles. She remarked that the group’s performances also served to solidify Latinx culture for the audience as well, and that she would often hear peers remark on how interesting and appealing the songs and dances were.
The importance of Suave at our school cannot be overstated because it creates a safe space for students who want to learn more about Latinx culture regardless of whether or not they are ethnically Latinx. Dance’s cultural significance in Latin American countries helps to enrich the ties between students and Latinx culture. Calderon emphasizes this by starting her choreographies with traditional Latin dance styles, typically bachata, merengue, salsa, or cumbia. It then transitions into a more modern dance style, keeping elements of the more traditional Latinx dances. This fusion of tradition and modernity not only appeals to the eyes, but also makes the dances more fun, drawing in different students from various backgrounds.
When Calderon looked at her own life and her relationship to dance within her culture, the importance of dance was highlighted throughout the contrast between Latin American countries’ traditions and traditions from other countries. In Latinx culture, dance is a pivotal skill, uniting and joining people all over Latin America, wherever they may be. Its centrality to Latin American culture serves to showcase and beautifully display how important it is for Lawrenceville to promote this creative outlet, creating a space not only to participate in Latinx culture, but also to watch it and learn about another culture through performing arts.