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Dancer Gilbert Saldivar Talks Latino Movies

Updated on July 17, 2019
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna wrote and directed several plays, taught acting for kids. She is a former talent scout, and at times directs or performs.

Gilbert Saldivar at The Movie Premiere

Latino Family

Gilbert Saldivar stars in the movie Shine, the winner of the audience award for best feature at the 2017 Urbanworld Film Festival. Directed by Anthony Nardolillo, the story follows a family, community, and culture. Together they learn the value of not backing down and fighting for what you want in life.

Two Puerto Rican brothers grow up in Spanish Harlem in New York. They gained popularity as the best Salsa dancers on the street but became separated after a tragedy. They come together years later on conflicting sides of gentrification.

Gentrification is "the restoration of run-down urban areas by the middle class (resulting in the displacement of lower-income people)" - WordNet.

Ballet Folkorico Dancer

Gilbert’s dance training stems from growing up learning and becoming a ballet folklórico dancer. He performed the traditional Mexican dance in Texas, France, and Mexico. He performed the traditional Mexican dance in Texas, France, and Mexico. After he started college, “I kind of branched out and started dancing for the NBA and the WPA for a couple [of] years.”

Gilbert moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dancing career and dance with pop artists like Madonna and Jennifer Lopez. His eyes brighten when he talks about his passion and says, “I'm meant to be a dancer, and it just kind of flows.”

Movie Musicals

He is humble but excited about the popularity of Shine and hopes to continue working in film. He aspires to be the Gene Kelley or Fred Astaire of Latino Dancers. He talked about the recent surge of movie musicals like La La Land, the remake of Gypsy and Westside Story. “I find myself being drawn to wanting to create. The movie musicals are pretty popular, today. I would love to kind of go in that direction. I would love to continue dancing in film.”

His dancing and acting talent landed him the role as Junior in Shine. Junior is the younger of two Puerto Rican brothers who are separated by a tragedy. They find themselves on opposite sides of a gentrification project seven years later. Junior is trying to maintain the culture of their neighborhood that their father created. The older brother, Ralphi, played by Jorge Burgos, works with other corporations that are building local and want to redevelop their family’s neighborhood. Thus, raising the cost of living, which the family cannot afford and closing down the Salsa Dance Studio.

Debbie Reynolds Legacy Studio

Gilbert stressed how gentrification happens in many lower-income areas and referred to a famous dance studio going through a similar experience as the one in the movie. “I just talked to a group of friends about the Debbie Reynolds Legacy Dance Studio. It’s the most legendary dance studio that exists. Michael Jackson used to rehearse there, and they're dealing with gentrification issues, right now. The studio is about to be closed down for the same reasons that happened in the movie.”

The movie's message is for those trying to maintain a location in a low-income area. Gilbert expresses the need for a movie like Shine. “It communicates about gentrification. It’s something that people need to find out about.”

Shine is a film about salsa dancing, family, and gentrification in New York's Spanish Harlem.

Director Anthony Nardolillo caught CBS eye due to this film and is about to direct TV episodes for the network.

Shine the Movie

Gilbert talked more about his friend being part owner of the Debbie Reynolds Legacy Studio.

Because of redevelopment in the area, the studio’s rent will triple. “It's too difficult to move on with the people who own the studio. It is kind of like what happens in the film.”

Shine as a small independent film experienced a journey of growth and is now playing in 600 theaters all over the US.

Christina Aguilera loved this movie and it won Audience Award Best Feature - HBO Urbanworld 2017

New York Urbanworld Film Festival

Gilbert senses the popularity of the movie comes from movies like Crazy Rich Asians and Black Panther. “We were kind of carrying that pattern because every minority is wanting to see themselves on screen and wanting stories like them because they're happening, and it matters,” explains Gilbert. “It’s creating this momentum with the film. The movie took on this magical power when we introduced it in New York at the Urbanworld Film Festival a year ago."

© 2018 Kenna McHugh

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