El Sazón Brings the Heat

The last thing you would expect to see outside on a cold April night is Saint Louis University’s acrobatic salsa dance team, El Sazón. The team performed on Saturday at SLU’s Relay for Life, a 12-hour fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

SLU grad student Alex Ocasio, along with five other people, founded the team three years ago. Ocasio is now the coach of El Sazón and Fuego, a subgroup duo within the team. “Sazón” is a Spanish word that translates to a Latin American seasoning that combines cilantro, achiote, garlic and salt.

“Much like the spice, the dancers on the team come from around the world,” said Ocasio. “They represent the Czech Republic, Honduras, Iran, Italy, Mexico, Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Spain, the United States and Venezuela,”

Halfway through the fundraising event, El Sazón’s performance provided relayers with the high energy they needed at midnight. Despite the 40-degree weather, the audience could not help but dance along to the upbeat Latin sounds blasting through Hermann Stadium.

The crowd cheered and clapped as the dancers performed their stunts and flips on stage. After seven dance numbers by El Sazón, Fuego performed. Fuego is the name of a two-person team consisting of Chris Canedo and Elena Burke. Their piece included 23 intense acrobatic stunts in under four minutes.

A combination of thrilling and gravity-defying stunts and Latin American music brought fire and exhilaration that warmed up the crowd.

“I have two good friends that are in it and watching them perform and do what they love always makes it so fun! They brought a lot of fun and spirit to relay and just made everyone smile with their energy,” said Angelica Rubi, one of the participants in Relay for Life.

El Sazón was the first Latin dance team on campus. The diverse group of dancers who make up the team not only promote Latin American culture through their performances, but also the cultures of the countries they come from.

Many genres of dance are integrated into their performances. Influences of salsa dance, acrobatics, ballet and jazz dance come together to create the magic that is El Sazón.