Latin dance band Azucar to headline 'One World' cultural festival

Cultural Festival
2013 Cultural Festival

Azúcar, the top Latin dance band in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, will headline the annual “One World” Cultural Festival on Feb. 22 at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

The theme of this year’s Cultural Festival, which celebrates the many different cultures represented by the Pitt-Bradford student body, faculty and staff and the surrounding community, is “Dance.”

In addition to plenty of dance, the festival, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Frame-Westerberg Commons, will feature international displays and booths, an international buffet, fashion show and other entertainment. The festival is free, but those who wish to eat at the buffet are asked to bring a dish to share or make a $5 donation.

 “Azucar is a red hot dance band with a full repertoire of Latin styles that include Salsa, Merengue, Cha-Cha-Cha, Bachata, Bolero, Rhumba and Latin Jazz.  The band is known throughout the region for getting listeners out of their seats and on the dance floor,” said Dr. Holly J. Spittler, associate dean of student affairs and co-chairperson of the cultural festival.

Organizations and individuals will showcase their cultures and traditions by sponsoring international displays and booths beginning at 6:30 p.m. on the first floor of the Frame-Westerberg Commons.

Displays will focus on food and culture in India, Mexico, Cyprus, China, Japan and Cameroon. Other topics will include international travel, Habitat for Humanity, sustainability, the Women 4 Women Diversity Quilt, the Fair Trade movement, World Trivia, as well as Jewish culture and cuisine in France.

Planned hands-on activities are a basket weaving, an interactive Dance Jam by Gamers United and a spinning demonstration by the Enchanted Mountain Weavers Guild.

The international fashion parade will open the entertainment phase of the evening with Pitt-Bradford student models showcasing Indian saris, Japanese kimonos, West African dashikis, and other outfits from many cultures at 7:30 p.m. in the Mukaiyama University Room. After the fashion parade, there will be a demonstration of tai chi, an internal Chinese martial art practice that contains spiritual, mental or life energy aspects.

Next, the Pitt-Bradford Diamond Steppers, back by popular demand, will perform a number that is a collection of rhythms made by using their hands and feet. Responding to chants or calls, the steppers stomp their feet or claps hands to a base beat along with moving into different formations. Rounding out the student group performances will be the newly formed Bollywood Dancers and University Dance Team, which has been a perennial favorite of the festival over the past 8 years.

At 8:30 p.m., Azúcar will take the stage.Azúcar (Spanish for “Sugar”) is a Latin Dance Band with a flare for creating a tightly woven blend of song and dance rhythms from the Americas, Puerto Rico and Spain. Known region-wide for their versatility and superb musicianship, Azúcar's signature sound is sensual, warm and lively.

Azúcar was founded by band leader Joe Herndon, a Bradford native, who is an award recipient of the Pittsburgh Commission on Culture and Tourism. Following the publication of his original compositions on two releases by the Pittsburgh Jazz Society, Herndon formed Azúcar and dedicated  himself to the preservation of Latin music as a vehicle for cultural expression.

Azúcar features singer Indira Corales, whose unique vocal style draws heavily on the rich legacy of indigenous music across Latin America.  As a result of their dedication to Latin-roots music, Azúcar has been propelled into the mainstream of contemporary world music. With a large fan base, Azúcar delivers every time they step on stage.

The Commons Café will also be adorned with flags, showing the nations that students call home.  For disability-related needs, contact the Office of Disability Resources and Services at 814-362-7609.