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QTP becomes a center for worldwide Latino culture

Starting July 25, Queens Theatre in the Park offers a tapas array of Latino music, dance, theater and film from Central and South America, the Caribbean, Spain, and the United States.

It's the QTP's fifth annual Latino Cultural Festival, sponsored by AT&T and other companies, running throgh Aug. 12.

The festival, with an array of free and moderately priced events, was begun in 1997 to celebrate the contributions of Latino artists to the New York cultural scene. "QTP recognized," states the promotional literature, "that a rising number of Latinos were making their homes in Queens."

More and more people started coming, and the show "got too big" to be confined to a moderate cabaret, QTP's Latino Programming Manager Sandra Villegas told Qguide. The festival was expanded, and it is now billed as the nation's largest Latino cultural festival. It's only fitting, since the 2000 Census, the QTP points out, found that a fourth of the borough's population is Latino.

Claudia Norman, QTP's artistic director of Latino programming, said she traveled to major stages in Latin America as well as small stages around the city "to bring together a rich sampling of Latino music, dance, theater, and film." The event includes seven acts exclusive in New York, and three U.S. premiers.

If you want a double dose of Latino performing Arts, the Thalia Spanish Theatre in Sunnyside presents the ballet Fiesta Mexicana from July 13 to Aug. 12. Call 718-729-3880 for more information.

Kathy Giaimo, Thalia's administrative director, said she had wanted to join in the QTP festival, but the schedules of the two venues couldn't fit. There are plans, though, for the Thalia and the QTP to join efforts for next year's Latino Festival.

Here's a sampling of what's in store at QTP from July 25 to Aug. 12:

"Fusion Tango" mixes traditional Argentinean tango with some modern dance and a pinch of ballet. The "Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre" offers modern dance and the twisting "La Mezcla." The New York-based Ecuadorean dance troupe Sisa Pakari celebrates Andean legends and culture, and Tola and Maruja from Colombia serve up comedy in the style of Abbott and Costello and the Smothers Brothers, with a contemporary twist.

For music, there's everything from jazz to "Rock en Espanol," with performers from Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Chile, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, and New York.

For a full schedule and tickets, call 718-760-0686.

Reach Qguide Editor David Glenn by e-mail at glenn@Timesledger or call 229-0300, Ext. 139.

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