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Your Time: La Noche Cubana, Florence

  • Julian Gerstin
  • Jillena Plowucha, 8<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Effie Molina<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Juan Carlos Morales <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Elizabeth Fernandez<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Maria Garcia of Florence, left, and Jacki Hayden of Goshen, right.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Miguel Periche, left, and Effie Molina <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Paper laterns decorated the windows<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • A crowd dances to the music of Afro-Cuban dance company Iroko Nuevo, Saturday, at La Noche Cubana. <br/>RAH CROSBY
  • Ilene Goldstein, left, and Miguel Periche <br/><br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Effie Molina, front and Miguel Periche<br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Members of Iroko Nuevo gather in a circle before their performance at the Florence Community Center, Saturday.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

Colorful costumes, vibrant music and eye-catching dance moves were all part of the mix at La Noche Cubana, a community event to benefit Casa Latina held Saturday at the Florence Community Center.

Founded in 1969, Casa Latina is a nonprofit educational and cultural center in Florence that supports the area’s Latino community.

Iroko Nuevo, a group based in the Pioneer Valley that performed at the fundraiser, demonstrated several dances that drew on both religious and non-religious styles and traditions. Iroko Nuevo offers Afro-Cuban dance workshops, music events and performances throughout the area.

As the night went on, the mood became more dramatic, with upbeat carnival music and dancers sporting vibrant costumes and feather headpieces. A stilts performance and several congo lines were among the highlights.

Elizabeth Fernandez, one of the performers, explained that “la sala” is a word that literally means a living room, but is also used more broadly to characterize a community meeting place. “The drama of life unfolds in la sala,” she said, “laughing, gossip, arguing. I was hoping that kind of interaction would happen between audience and performers.

“We want to demonstrate how Cuban people enjoy music and tradition,” she added. “It was really glorious to see people get up and dance. I just loved it.”

Saturday’s program was supported, in part, by a grant from the Northampton Arts Council.

To suggest a subject for Your Time, email Suzanne Wilson at swilson@gazettenet.com.

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