Photo Credit: Mike Eliason
By COLIN POWERS
he Courthouse Sunken Garden will come alive for three nights during Las Noches de Ronda and Tardes de Ronda two Fiesta events that thrill spectators with the romance of Spanish and Mexican song and dance.
Also this year, one of the dancers who perform at Las Noches de Ronda ("Nights of Gaiety") will get more than applause from enthralled Fiesteros.
For the first time, the best performer will earn a trophy for her dancing, said Chris Gutierrez, public information officer for Fiesta. The trophy was made possible by the sponsorship of several local organizations this year.
Another addition this year is for dancers at Tardes de Ronda ("Afternoon of Gaiety,"), a dance event for children age 14 and under. They will get certificates of participation, Gutierrez said.
Anyone can attend the free Las Noches de Ronda, which is scheduled for 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. July 31-Aug. 2 at the Courthouse Sunken Garden.
Tardes de Ronda, also free, is set for about 1:30 p.m. Aug. 2 after the children's parade earlier in the day. Tardes de Ronda, led by Fiesta's Junior Spirit, should end around 4 p.m.
Spectators should bring lawn chairs, pillows and blankets for comfortable viewing.
Ivett Cuevas, the Senior Spirit of Fiesta, said she's glad one of the dancers will win a trophy for her hard work.
Although the dancers perform for free, preparing for the event can be a costly endeavor. Cuevas will wear four dresses and an array of other accessories during her performances at Las Noches de Ronda.
Shoes cost Cuevas around $75 and the dresses cost about $50 in material and about $150 to have them made. Other costs for dancers include dance lessons, earrings and flowers.
Cuevas, who dances for the Linda Vega Dance Studio, will perform three solo spirit dances and a couple of group dances.
During certain classical dances, Cuevas will play the castanettes, a handheld percussion instrument. In a "gypsy dance," she uses a shawl as a prop.
In a dance called bulerias, the dancers improvise and "have fun with it," Cuevas said. A live guitarist accompanies the dancers.
One of the most popular dances, however, is the flamenco.
"Flamenco dancing is very coquettish," Cuevas said. "You flirt with the crowd. You use a lot of your eyes when you dance. There's a lot of passion when you're doing it too."
Dancing has been an integral part of Fiesta since it debuted in August 1924.
Women comprise most of the dance acts today, but men used to figure heavily into the classical Spanish dances.
Juan Cota whose family has played a part in many Fiestas was known as Mr. Fiesta for his domination of Spanish dancing. He performed at the first Fiesta at the reopening of the "new" Lobero Theatre in 1924. He danced for 40 more years, often accompanied by one of his several daughters.
This week, a new generation of performers have the chance to follow in the legacy Cota and other dancers have left over the last 74 years.
Las Noches de Ronda
8-10 p.m., July 31-Aug. 2
Location: Courthouse Sunken Garden
Tardes de Ronda
1:30-4 p.m. Aug. 2
Courthouse Sunken Garden
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