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Fiesta for all

The Latino population in Queens has been growing rapidly and this has given them a significant presence in the community. So the borough seems like the perfect place for the Chase Latino Cultural Festival.

Queens Theatre in the Park wanted to acknowledge and celebrate the Latino culture’s contributions to the borough by creating the festival with the Latin America Cultural Center of Queens.

“The Chase Latino Festival is the theater’s signature program,” said Jeffrey Rosenstock, executive director of Queens Theatre in the Park. “It represents everything our theater strives to be in terms of reflecting and celebrating the cultural legacies of the communities living in our borough and inviting international, national and local artists to showcase their work at our venue.”

The series highlights the Latino culture through music, dance, film, theater, spoken word and art exhibitions.

After 14 years, the festival is still going strong and Rosenstock believes there are a lot of factors that contribute to the festival’s success.

“Despite the severity of the economic situation, this festival continues to flourish, due in large part to its many supporters and sponsors and, of course, the curatorial vision of the festival’s artistic director, Claudia Norman, who has brought over 200 companies and artists to perform at the festival since its inception in 1997,” he said.

Norman has been the festival artistic director since 1999 and has helped transform the series into one of the largest Latin-themed cultural events in the nation.

“As the only multidisciplinary Latino festival in New York, we always seek to represent the diversity of Latino and Latin American culture,” said Norman. “I think it’s important to bring artists to the U.S. from abroad as well as local artists and expose audiences to [the] past, present and future through live performances.”

The festival will have performers from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela.

Norman is proud of the festival’s success, but she knows that in order to succeed there has to be positive results.

“The most important thing is that our sponsors are able to see that their commitment is paying off,” she said.

A constant traveler, her main goal is to bring her experiences to Queens.

“We are on track,” she said. “We are doing what people are doing all over [the world].”

She is pleased to hear the performances generate feelings of nostalgia and happy memories for the audience. She also thinks the festival serves as a platform for artists to get exposure in America that they would not have otherwise.

Local artists will also be showcased. For example, the opening acts Aug. 5 for Leon Gieco will be Claudia Acuña, Aquiles Baez and Lucia Pulido, who are Latin American songwriters based in New York.

The theater, which prides itself on providing audiences with high-quality work and performances, is located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Established in 1989, the theater opened to the public in 1993 and has since been dedicated to reflecting the diversity of Queens.

If You Go

Latino Cultural Festival

Where: Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park

July 29, 8 p.m.: Contra Tiempo. Los Angeles-based Contra tiempo fuses salsa, Afro-Cuban, West African and hip-hop styles to create an invigorating dance performance.

Cost: $35 day of, $30 advance, $28 multi-show

July 30, 8 p.m.: Yomo Toro y Los Latino Del Son. Known as the “Jimi Hendrix of salsa,” Toro’s spectacular, pioneering use of the “cuatro,” Puerto Rico’s 10-stringed guitar, has thrilled fans of all ages in concerts throughout the world.

Cost: $25 day of, $20 advance, $18 multi-show

July 31, 2 p.m.: Pistolera (Moona Luna). Moona Luna, the first female-led, bilingual band of its kind, is the new musical project brought to you by the Latin-Alternative group Pistolera.

Cost: Free

Aug. 1, 7 p.m.: Tango y Vida. Six dancers, seven musicians, a singer and an actor present the history of tango live on stage.

Cost: $35 day of, $30 advance, $28 multi-show

Aug. 3, 7:30 p.m.: Alejandro Caceres Dance Co. A bold new piece. “Dilei” (“Delay”) explores the perception of time — the drives, impulses, delays and habits that shape our social discourse.

Cost: Free

Aug. 4, 7 p.m.: Bonafide Rojas. “Def Poetry Jam” star Bonafide Rojas emcees an open call to all poets and songwriters!

Cost: Free

Aug. 4, 7:30 p.m.: “Al otro lado” (“To the Other Side”). (Natalia Almada, US/Mexico, 2005, 66 min. In Spanish with English subtitles.) But Magdiel has a special talent that could be his ticket out of the Mexican drug trade: composing corridos — ballads about the narcotics underworld and illegal immigrant life.

Cost: Free

Aug. 4, 8 p.m.: Los Chantas Tango Quartet. Wesnousky and Raphael will be giving a “fast course” for audiences who are dancing tango for the first time.

Cost: Free

Aug. 5, 8 p.m.: Leon Gieco with Claudia Acuña, Aquiles Baez and Lucia Pulido. “The Voice of the Argentinian people,” folk/rock performer Gieco brings his socially conscious songs to QTP.

Cost: $25 day of, $20 advance, $18 multi-show

Aug. 6, 8 p.m.: Carlos Varela. Often compared to Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, Varela is one of the most popular and provoking singer-songwriters in Cuba.

Cost: $30 day of, $25 advance, $23 multi-show

Aug. 7, 8 p.m.: Jorge Velosa and Los Carrangueros. Jorge Velosa is one of the great international representatives of Columbian popular music, having invented an entire musical genre known as “carranga.”

Cost: $30 day of, $25 advance, $23 multi-show

Aug. 8, 7:30 p.m.: Susana Baca. Continuing its tradition of bringing the best Peruvian artist to Queens, QTP is proud to present Grammy Award-winning singer Susana Baca performing selections from her intimate and deeply personal new CD, “Seis Poemas.”

Cost: $30 day of, $25 advance, $23 multi-show

Contact: 718-760-0064

For More: www.queenstheatre.org

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