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Latin Dance Festival brings together some of hottest local bands

Loosen those hips and get ready to move to the sizzling Latin sounds of some of Albuquerque’s hottest bands during the Latin Dance Festival.

The event started on Wednesday, Aug. 22, with a dance workshop given by Cuban artist Daybert Linares, and a festival-opening party was held on Thursday, Aug. 23, at Hotel Albuquerque. The festival continues today with workshops and a free concert by Son Como Son tonight in Old Town. After the Old Town concert, Son Como Son will move to the Tablao inside Hotel Albuquerque for a show at 10 p.m.

Saturday night is the big dance, featuring Charanga del Valle, Ivon Ulibarri & Cafe Mocha at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. It will also feature performances by workshop instructors. A Sunday night wrap-up party will be held at the NHCC. A variety of workshops will be offered at the NHCC today through Sunday for all ages and skill levels.

“Our festival is a community event where we want to enrich our community through music and dance and through education,” said Jessica Montoya, director of programming for the dancers. “It incorporates a variety of Latin dance and music, Latin artists and groups. We tend to focus most heavily on salsa, but we include flamenco, bachata, merengue, reggaeton, and so that is just the dance classes, but we have educational classes that incorporate the breaking down of music and instruments so that people involved in the festival can understand the different aspects in dancing and music and musicians or playing music.”

This year’s event centers on local talent.

“This year, we’re doing it a bit differently, with a focus on local talent, local instructors and artists,” Montoya said. “The theme is ‘Home Is Where the Art Is’ to emphasize the talent in New Mexico and incredible talent that we have here. We are a very diverse group of amazing artists. We do have out-of-town artists, but this year the focus is on what we have at home.”

The Latin Dance Festival board consists of people in the community from different walks of life.

“We are a nonprofit and a group of people that really love our state and our community, and it gives us an opportunity to come together and have a positive experience,” Montoya said. “We want to grow our festival to get into schools to give back to our community. We need positive events and experiences. It’s one way to come together.”