José Cruz grew up dancing in his home country of El Salvador before moving to L.A. 20 years ago, traveling up the coast and settling in Eugene. Locally, Cruz has been teaching dance — mostly salsa — for 16 years with his school Salsersos Dance Company, now housed in the Vet’s Club Building. “Coming here,” Cruz says, it’s “a great thing to teach the dance that I grew up with.”
Cruz will kick off the Lane Arts Council’s month-long celebration of Latino art and culture — Fiesta Cultural — with a free salsa night for First Friday ArtWalk at Kesey Square Sept. 4. Salsa lessons run 5 to 5:30 pm, followed by performances by Salseros and Azucar, a Eugene group specializing in Cuban salsa. The night culminates in a public salsa party set to the sounds of Seattle salsa band Cambalache 6 to 9 pm.
Cruz says no experience is required and advises wearing comfortable clothing and footwear. “It’s for anybody,” Cruz adds, saying salsa is a great way to exercise and meet people. If salsa night whets your dance appetite, Salseros offers classes for all levels and hosts social dances every Friday night at the Vet’s Club. For more info, visit salseros.com.
For those whose feet are happier walking, Jessica Zapata of Eugene Arte Latino and Paulina Romo of Downtown Languages host a bilingual guided tour for the ArtWalk that begins 5:30 pm at Kesey Square with stops at The Jazz Station, Jacobs Gallery, MECCA and The Lincoln Gallery.
Liora Sponko, executive director of Lane Arts Council, says she’s wanted to host Fiesta Cultural for years. “Before I worked at Lane Arts Council I worked at Centre Latino Americano, working with Latino immigrants,” Sponko says. “When I came into Lane Arts Council, I had the idea to create an event where we can integrate the Latino community into the broader community and use the arts to do that.”
To see the full schedule of events — including south Eugene, Springfield and Cottage Grove art walks, exhibits featuring Mexican artists Enrique Chagoya and Catalina Delgado Trunk at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (opening Sept. 10) and a bilingual performance from Milagro Theatre at Oregon Contemporary Theatre in October — visit lanearts.org/fiesta-cultural.