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A winter celebration… Dance, sing and be merry

The upcoming months rings in a new and diverse program for lovers of Latin American culture.

The holiday season is just around the corner.

For cultures and countries the world over the month of December is one of celebration; a time for families to get together and remember the things that really matter in life, such as love, family, caring and acceptance.

The days of Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza and countless other festivals embody these values and show that despite cultural differences, diversity should not be a boundary when sharing what you have with others.

In the spirit of the holidays, the Embassy of Venezuela in London will be hosting a month of festive events and workshops that combine the best parts of the season with the unique culture and spirit of Venezuela.

Physical pursuits

To keep the body active during the stuffy indoor months of winter, the Embassy has several classes and events to choose from to get the warmth and spice back into life.

Weekly dance classes will be held every Monday of the month, starting at 6:30 p.m., for all people interested in joining the Bolivar Dance Group. Age or experience is no problem for those wishing to take part, and classes will last approximately 90 minutes.

The dance group will focus primarily on traditional Venezuelan dances such as the tango and salsa, allowing students to experience the rich roots of Latin American dance by themselves or with partners.

Yoga classes will also take place Mondays at 5:15 p.m. Instructor Susy Pena is a native Venezuelan who traveled to India to train in the style of hatha yoga; a spiritual form of yoga that involves using the physical body to unite the mind, strength and spirit and achieve equality with nature and with oneself.

Yoga does not require any special equipment; prospective attendees are instructed to bring comfortable clothes, a mat and towel and a mind open to the possibilities of getting more out of your exercise than simply physical conditioning.

Cultural offerings

In addition to dance and yoga, the Embassy is also offering up yet another month of diverse entertainments designed to let guests experience what Latin America has to offer in terms of music and the arts.

With a combination of Brazilian spirit and London classical training, pianist Clelia Iruzun is one of the most talented and original musicians to emerge on the international scene in recent years.

Iruzun began playing piano as a child of four in Rio de Janiero, won her first competition at seven and at 15 debuted in concert playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto; there is little doubt she is a musical prodigy. In a live concert on December 4, she will promote the launch of her new solo CD and dazzle the audience with a blend of tunes from Spain, Latin America and the rest of Europe. And the concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

On December 7, a fascinating new program will present a performance of love songs and dances from Brazil and Portugal known collectively as “modinhas”. This musical style began in the European cultures of Portugal during the early 19th century and later spread to Latin America, where it gradually combined with the melodies of African slaves and traditional Brazilian tunes to form an entirely new musical genre.

By the turn of the century modinhas and its companion style lundus were being composed by the hundreds and circulated throughout Portugal and Latin America in manuscript journals and periodicals. The program will provide an introduction to this art form that has influenced and inspired generations of later musicians.

Finally, in a fascinating discussion on December 13, a workshop organized by the Center for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University will talk about “Time and Temporality, After Phenomenology.” As the holidays are themed around the passage of time, the talk will be based on each person’s sense of accomplishment in their life and what makes people focus on the time they have left.

The talk will begin at 1:00 p.m. and continue until 6:00 p.m.

All events will be held at Bolivar Hall, 54 Grafton Way, London W1T 5DL. For more information, visit http://www.cultura.embavenez-uk.org/.

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