Out dancing on Friday Night
By Dustin White
Mandan News, editor
It was nearly a year ago now that Melissa Hunde-Cerna sent a message to Angela Harmon on Facebook, in regards to a Latin dance night. For eight months, that message would go unseen, but not forgotten.
Then, in December, Harmon met with Hunde-Cerna and Renee Splichal Larson at an International Club meeting. They had been interested in a dance night for years. Harmon, who has taught dance since she was 19, knew that this sort of event would be appreciated in the community, as she had been asked many times where her students could practice the moves they learned.
To move forward, it was necessary to find a venue that would be willing, as well as able, to host a Latino dance night. They found such in the Harvest Brazilian Grill on Main St. in Mandan, allowing them to host their first dance night last Friday.
The event, which is open to the public, is meant to be much more though. “The music and the dance are more than just entertainment for us. It has become a part of our soul, our happiness, our memories,” said Harmon.
Overall, the goal is to bring the community together, as well as present an opportunity for cross-cultural exchange and appreciation. “Also, I empathize with all the other Latino’s in the community who are so far from home and don’t have a single place in town to dance to their music,” said Harmon
The night began with basic instructions for three forms of Latin dance: the bachata, merengue, and salsa. Harmon, and her husband Enmanuel Reinoso, lead the class, first by demonstrating the basic moves, and then leading a demonstration.
It began slowly, with many of the participants being brand new to the dance forms. Within the half-hour of instructions though, dancers were twirling around the floor, ready to dance rest of the night away. What had once been stiff individuals, melted into flowing dancers.
For Harmon, this was not surprising. “As soon as I start dancing, my body relaxes, and a signal is sent to my brain saying, ‘hey, this feels right, why has is been so long.’”
There is little worry about failing during the instruction. Throughout the night, Harmon and Reinoso went around giving advice and helping each fall into the correct steps.
“Don’t look at your feet,” Reinoso would say. “Never stop, even if your partner does. You will always find where they are.”
Harmon and Reinoso were invested in each dancer succeeding, because for them, dancing formed more of a connection. “This Fiesta first Friday gives my husband and I a night out together, doing something we both love,” said Harmon.
There is also a bond that is formed through this dance, as they are about joining and finding each other, while working together. “The lesson is a great opportunity to bond with your significant other while learning something new,” said Molly Brooks, who attended the event last Friday.
During the first event last Friday, around 40 individuals participated and enjoyed dancing through the night.
Fiesta First Friday is planned for every first Friday of the month, through October, at the Harvest Brazilian Grill on Main St. in Mandan. Instructions begin at 9 p.m., and last half an hour. Following is open dance.
There is a five dollar cover charge, and is a 21 year and older event.