Hispanic Heritage Month Festival returns this week with music, dance

The Hispanic Heritage Month Festival is back for its second year with four events this week to celebrate Spanish and Latino music and dance.

If you go

What: Salsa dance lessons

Where: Dance Because, 3300 Bob Billings Parkway, #11

When: 7 to 8 p.m. Monday

Cost: Free

What: Flamenco music and dance clinic

Where: Murphy Hall Room 114, 1530 Naismith Drive

When: 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday

Cost: Free

What: Dance exhibition and dance party

Where: The Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania St.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Cost: $10

What: Performance by Tango music group, Cucharada

Where: The Eldridge Hotel, 701 Massachusetts St.

When: 7 to 10 p.m. Friday

Cost: $5

While one of the goals of the festival is to bring people together to celebrate their heritage, it’s also meant to be educational as well, said Sean Mawhirter, one of the festival’s lead organizers.

“We’re basically trying to bring a better awareness of Latin culture at large,” he said.

Festivities include free dance lessons in salsa and flamenco and an exhibition of dances from the Americas, as well as music and dance performances. The cost of entrance to events ranges from free to $10.

The festival is sponsored in part by the City of Lawrence, the Eldridge Hotel and the dance studio EZ Dancing. Other contributors include the Kansas University Hispanic American Leadership Organization, the KU Latin American Graduate Organization and the KU schools of music and dance.

Events are being held both on and off the KU campus, and Mawhirter said the festival is an opportunity to bring together both elements of the city.

“It’s sort of like a cross-pollination between the campus community and the community at large,” Mawhirter said.

All events are open to the public, and Mawhirter hopes the festival will draw people of all cultural backgrounds.

“If they discover something they like, then at some small measure a bridge has been built,” he said.