Starting off with a group of bandanna-clad hip-hop dancers, Furious Styles Crew, busting out break-dancing moves and head spins on on the gleaming floor of the Phoenix Art Museum, it was pretty clear that the award ceremony was going to be a hit.
Founded in 2005 by El Break Productions, the awards aim to recognized local talent and leaders who've made a difference in the Valley and Latino community. This year, all 16 award-winners were voted on directly by the community via online surveys courtesy of El Break, Facebook and Myspace.
"Athlete of the Year" went to Arizona native Cynthia Moreno,19, who aims to represent the United States in the 2012 Olympics for women's boxing. Raquel Teran was awarded "Activist of the Year" for her efforts to protect human rights amid Sheriff Joe Arpaio's endless raids, and Danny Ortega -- local activist and immigration lawyer -- won "Personality of the Year" for his work in the community.
A few highlights: At the ceremony Saturday, the entire room gave a standing ovation to Raul Yzaguirre, a long-term civil-rightly leader, president and CEO of National Council of La Raza, and winner of this year's "Orgullo Award." Yzaguirre gave a moving speech encouraging young people to carry the torch and keep fighting for justice in their communities. Next, local band Leaf, winner of this year's "Best Band" award, rocked the house with four amazing songs featuring electric violin and haunting vocal harmonies.
"We're very happy with the results. It was a great show," says Luis Avila, radio host of El Break. "We hope it grows every year and becomes something that people look forward to."
Here's a list of all the winners:
Athlete of the Year: Cynthia Moreno
Artist of the Year: Luis Gutierrez
Best New Idea: PHX BUX, John and Joey
Best Social Media Project: Human League 002, Dennis Gilman
Orgullo Award: Raul Yzaguirre
Best Green Project: Arcosanti
Best Club: Karamba
Best DJ: DJ Fuego, Miguel Rodriguez
Best Publication: Latino Future
Personality of the Year: Danny Ortega
Entrepreneur of the Year: Tio Rico
Project of the Year: Las Otras Hermanas
Best Restaurant: Gallo Blanco
Best Local Band: Leaf
Mejor Locutor: Everk Sanchez
Activist of the Year: Raquel Teran