Jason Olson, Deseret News
Members of the Hispanic Dance Alliance rehearse in Midvale. The group will be featured in the "Latin Dance Spectacular" Saturday.

For nine years, the Utah Hispanic Dance Alliance has brought its "Latin Dance Spectacular" to Utah stages.

This year, the company, directed by Jessica Salazar, will spotlight Bolivia in its performance. But, Salazar said, the dances will feature some traditional Bolivian dances that even some Bolivians won't recognize.

"The dances that we will be doing are traditional, folk and ceremonial dances from the country but are danced in the tiny villages that originated in the jungles of Bolivia, away from the majority of the population," Salazar said. "I found out about these dancers because the UHDA was invited to Oruru, Bolivia, to participate in a three-day festival, the largest in South America, even bigger than the Carnivale in Rio de Janeiro."

Salazar said she couldn't believe all the energy at the festival.

"They danced from 5 a.m. until 2 a.m. the next morning for three days," she said. "There were 54,000 people dancing. And the costumes were so intricate and beautiful."

That experience inspired Salazar to invite Daniel Torres, choreographer for the Ensemble Boliviana de Oruru.

"We talked and arranged for him to come to Utah to set these pieces on our dancers," Salazar said. "He sent us an outline of what the dances were and how they were going to be done.

"So we introduced the dancers to the movements and gave them a lesson on the dances, and then when Daniel come to town, he set them and gave the details to the dancers."

In addition to the spotlight on Bolivia, UHDA will also feature a segment on the Altiplano dances of the Andean region.

Both of these spotlights, as well as the rest of the program, is designed to educate and entertain the audiences here," Salazar said. "It is important to preserve these folk traditions.

"Right now there are hard and dangerous times in Bolivia, and a lot of people are worried about their culture being lost," Salazar said. "One of the missions for the Utah Hispanic Dance Alliance is to educate and preserve. And having Daniel Torres teaching us these dances is helping us preserve the culture. And our part is to make sure the dances are to remain intact as much a possible.

"It's our little contribution to the world."

If you go ...

What: Latin American Dance Spectacular, Utah Hispanic Dance Alliance

Where: Kingsbury Hall, University of Utah

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

How much: $10

Phone: 581-7100

E-mail: [email protected]