Students show off passion for fashion

Online Poster

By Acton Gorton

Saturday night’s “La Pasi¢n” – an annual Latino/a fashion and dance show hosted by the Illini Union Board – rocked the Illini Union ballroom with scenes featuring dancing, casual clothing, club clothes, evening dresses and even some lingerie as heavy music pulsated in the background.

Nadia Ramirez, one of the show’s choreographers and a senior in business, fidgeted and rubbed her hands as the show began. It was the first fashion show she had choreographed, but she had worked with Latino programming before.

Brittany Moran, senior in LAS and show coordinator, waltzed onto the catwalk with Sesean Bridges, junior in LAS and show co-chair. When she got to the end, she looked out at the crowd.

“How ya’ll doin’ tonight?” Moran hollered to the packed Illini Union ballroom.

The crowd roared and whistled back with their excitement as they eagerly waited for the show to begin. Seven fly girls emerged, dancing on the catwalk amid a mix of reggae and hip-hop music as cameras flashed. The shadows of the dancers flickered across the black backdrop, mimicking their moves.

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After the first scene, Ramirez said the event was going well.

“It’s a little more sensual – bit of a surprise,” she said.

The show continued with a mix of cultural music and fashion. Reggae, merengue and hip-hop were some of the main choices of theme music. And although the show was titled under a Latino name, both the models and audience members were ethnically diverse.

At one point, members of the audience were invited on stage to show off their dancing skills. Audience member Pete Diogolewicz, 17, of Munster, Ind., performed an impromptu break dance.

The scenes of the fashion show rotated through musical and cultural genres: It swung through the roaring ’40s swing-dancing era, twisted through the ’60s with Chuck Berry, got it on in the ’70s with Marvin Gaye, spiced it up in the disco era and got caliente for the ’80s.

After intermission and a dance show, the crowd appeared eager for the lingerie show to begin. When it did, the audience went wild. There was something for everybody. Men and women started out in pajamas, but it quickly got risqu‚ with the models wearing revealing attire. Nobody in the crowd appeared to object and the dancing brought on more whistles and hollers.

But behind the scenes and before the show, Moran said first attempts at open auditions to get models for the show “didn’t have the best turnout.” So she had to pull from a friend-based network and get people to ask around for anyone who was interested in being in the show. She said her scariest moment preparing for the show was when her co-chair quit.

“It was just very difficult initially to organize things in a way that would ordinarily take two people,” she said.

She said there were times when the participants of the show would rehearse until 1 or 2 a.m., and then some would go home and practice until 5 a.m.

Ken Walker, sophomore in LAS and model for the show, said his favorite part of the show was the hip-hop and merengue scenes because he enjoyed the music. He had to practice six hours a week for a month to prepare for the show but he said it didn’t interfere with his schoolwork too much.

Elaine Chan, freshman in ACES and model for the show, said the best part was the lingerie scene.

“I just liked the music and the way they danced,” she said.

Chan plans to switch her major to fashion design because she likes to design clothes and make people look good.

Nina Fuentes, freshman in LAS, said she thought the show was okay, but she was a little disappointed with it.

“Latino isn’t hip-hop,” she said. “I thought it was a good show overall – I just would have liked to have seen more of actual traditional dress from the various Latin American countries.”

She said her impressions of what the show would be about were different from what she saw. Fuentes said she went to the show because some friends who were in the show dragged her along.

Alan Draper, junior in LAS, said he thought they did a good job with the show – although he said it appeared the coordinator threw some stuff together at the last minute.

“I’m not overly familiar with Latin culture very much, but I did enjoy it,” Draper said. “It had some good music, the dancing was good – it seemed pretty cool,” Draper said.