Salsa, mambo, rhumba, bolero ' the fiery figures of Latin dance will erupt in a cultural fiesta celebrating Spanish Week in Acadiana. The date was chosen 515 years ago when Cristobal Colon's three small ships crossed the Atlantic and Spain's explorers first set foot on the beaches of the New World. This season, the Performing Arts Society of Acadiana brings world-class New York City-based dance company Ballet Hispanico to Cajun country for a long weekend of cultural exchange.

Unstoppable energy and vivacious original choreography are trademark elements of the troupe, which fuses Latin dance with elements of classical contemporary dance. The New York Times calls Ballet Hispanico "versatile, talented, attractive, and energetic," appropriate props for the ensemble's fusion of ballet, modern, and Latin dance forms. A Hispanic Culture Workshop at the Lafayette Senior Center with Ballet Hispanico kicks off events mid-week. Salsa and master classes are open to the public. There will also be a party Friday night at IberiaBank to meet the dancers that's scheduled to spill over into Latin Night at Club 307 downtown.

On Saturday, the Association Cultural Latino Acadiana hosts a free Latin Music Festival at Parc International that will also highlight Mexican food from some of the area's restaurants. "We want people to meet these artists because there's nothing like knowing the team," says PASA Executive Director Jackie Lyle. "If people meet the artists and then they get to see them up on the stage, it really amplifies an audience's feelings." The weekend culminates with the Sunday night performance of Ballet Hispanico dancing original pieces to the music of Latin greats Ruben Gonzalez, Santana and Tito Puente at the Heymann Performing Arts center.


Ballet Hispanico events: Wed., Oct. 3, at 3 p.m. ' Hispanic Culture Workshop at the Lafayette Senior Center at 110 NE Evangeline Thruway. Admission is free, but pre-registration is requested by calling 289-8516. Fri., Oct. 5, at 3 p.m.' Salsa dance class at Lafayette Senior Center; there is no cost to attend, but pre-registration is requested by calling 289-8516. Fri., Oct. 5, at 4 p.m. ' Advanced master class workshop, McLaurin Hall on the UL Lafayette campus. Dancers who are ticket holders for the Oct. 7 evening Ballet Hispanico performance will be given complimentary admission to the advanced master class workshop and must bring their ticket with them. The participation fee is $10 for those who want to attend the workshop and do not have a ticket to the performance. Space is limited. Fri., Oct. 5, 7 p.m. ' Meet Ballet Hispanico. IberiaBank lobby. Sat., Oct. 6, 4 p.m.-11 p.m. ' Latin Fest, Parc International. Sun., Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m. ' PASA Series performance, Heymann Performing Arts Center. Mon., Oct. 8, 10:30 a.m. ' Daytime performance for junior high and high school students at Heymann Performing Arts Center. For more information call PASA at 237-2787.

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