LA TIERRA DE ARARA
Three dynamic weeks of dance, music, film, master classes & special events in San Francisco and Oakland.
The theme this year, La Tierra de Arará, The Land of the Arará, acknowledges the unique culture that traveled from the Dahomey region (now Benin) of West Africa to Cuba, Haiti and Brazil during the transatlantic slave trade. Carried by people torn from their homelands, African culture – such as Arará and more widely known traditions like Yoruba and Bantu -- diffused through the Atlantic slave trade and somehow survived. Arará still thrives in Cuba, especially in Matanzas.
In choosing the theme, CubaCaribe artistic director Ramon Ramos Alayo will focus on the tenacity of the culture, its ability to endure and evolve via dance, rhythm, and song, carrying stories across continents and generations.
Week 1 : LA TIERRA : DESCENDANTS OF THE DAHOMEY
Dance Mission Theatre, 24th & Mission, SF
Friday at 8pm, May 13, Saturday at 8pm, May 14, and Sunday at 7pm, May 15
Week 2 : EL AGUA : TRANSATLANTIC TONGUES
Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Performing Arts, 1428 Alice Street, Oakland
Friday at 8pm, May 20, Saturday at 8pm, May 21, and Sunday at 3pm, May 22
Week 3 : LA ORILLA : LOSS & ACCEPTANCE
Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St, Oakland
Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, May 26-28
Alayo Dance Company World Premiere
A series of lectures and classes allow audiences to examine more critically the themes viewed on stage, and to visit a cultural/spiritual world that is often hidden or made exotic. Classes and lectures will be given by master local artists Yagbe Onilu and Michael Spiro as well as by invited teachers Danys “La Mora” Pérez from New York, Yosvany Terry from New York, Kati Hernandez from Los Angeles, and Silfredo La O from San Diego.
Wednesday May 11, 6 pm. $12 at Museum of African Diaspora, 685 Mission St., San Francisco
Film Screening of Rhythmic Uprising
Rhythmic Uprising is a documentary that shows how vibrant Afro-Brazilian performing arts are used to fight racism, social exclusion, and poverty in Bahia, Brazil. The film outlines the transformative powers of a large movement of community cultural projects that make up the latest chapter in a creative struggle for racial equality that began four centuries ago. Concepts of citizenship considered in this hour-long film include capoeira, candomblé, blocos afros, theater, circus, and quilombos.
With Q and A by the film director, Benjamin Watkins and co-producer, Eliciana Nascimento
Wednesday May 18, 6 pm $12 at Museum of African Diaspora, 685 Mission St, San Francisco
Lecture by Michael Spiro
An internationally recognized percussionist, recording artist, and educator known specifically for his work in the Latin music field will do a lecture entitled, "Arara Savalu--It's Musical Richness and Complexity"
This lecture will focus on the Arara music of the province of Matanzas, particularly the style known as Savalu. We will discuss some of the background, history and musical development of the style, where it fits with the other West African music of the province (Yoruba, Bantu, Karabali), and will learn a few songs and rhythms as specific examples.
Wednesday May 25, 6 pm $12 at Museum of African Diaspora, 685 Mission St., San Francisco
Lecture by Yosvany Terry
Known around the globe for his musical innovation, he melds the traditional sounds of his native Cuba with avant-garde innovation and fiery post-bop, sophisticated harmonies. He sits at the forefront of a group of young Cuban musicians who have recently inspired the New York City’s scene with a new creative energy. He will do a lecture entitled, Arará Music from Cuba and its fusion with Jazz: The Concept of Ye-de-gbe & Afro-Caribbean Legacy which explores the Afro-Caribbean Arará musical tradition – a style brought to Cuba by slaves taken from West Africa – in a collection of compositions with African percussion.
Danis La Mora Perez, will teach master classes in dance and song May 12-15
Kati Hernandez will teach a master class Saturday May 21, 10:30-12:00 at Dance Mission Theater and Sunday May 22
Silfredo LaO Vigo will teach a master class Friday May 27 and Saturday May 28
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Colette Eloi's El Wah Movement, an Oakland based Haitian dance company founded in 2005, whose name means Movement of the Soul. Along with traditional Haitian folkloric dance, the troupe presents fusion pieces using traditional African movements to create choreography that applies to modern life. Colette has performed across the US, Spain, Cuba and the south of France as a dancer/choreographer with various groups including Petit Le Croix, Reconnect, Dimensions Dance Theatre, Nuba, Ropa y Raja Peruvian Dance and Beya’s Brazilian Dance Company.
Danys “La Mora” Pérez’s Oyu Oro performed in CubaCaribe 2008 and was asked by our audiences to return. Originally from Santiago de Cuba, La Mora is an internationally renowned master of Afro-Cuban folkloric dance who specializes in Cuban dance from el Oriente (the eastern part of Cuba), which has a heavy Haitian influence due to the large influx of Haitians during the Haitian Revolution. In 1994, she was granted the designation of primera bailarina and primera profesora by the National Dance Commission in Cuba, and has since taught in Italy, Spain, France, Canada, and the United States. La Mora currently teaches Afro Cuban dance classes at The Alvin Ailey Extension program and attends dance programs and workshops as a guest instructor and choreographer. She is founder and artistic director of Oyu Oro, the Afro-Cuban Experimental Dance Ensemble in New York City.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph (Haitian-American spoken word artist and lecturer) is artistic director of the HBO documentary “Brave New Voices” and an inaugural recipient of the United States Artists’ Fellowship. His performance piece red black and GREEN: a blues engages the eco-equity movement in Black neighborhoods across America, premiering at Yerba Buena Center this fall. He also is co-writing a narrative score for the Chicago Jazz Ensemble with Amiri Baraka.
Aguas Da Bahia (Afro-Brazilian) was founded in 1999 by Bahia native Tania Santiago, who is Artistic Director and Choreographer. Music Director is master candomble drummer Gamo Da Paz. Artistic and Musical direction is also provided by Emiliano Benevides. The company is known for revealing and preserving the deep roots of Afro Brazilian traditions in Brazil’s northeastern states. The rich, multi-layered culture of displaced Africans, Indigenous peoples, and Europeans is celebrated through dance, song, and music.
Grupo Experimental Nagó with Artistic Direction by Temistocles Betancourt of eastern Cuba’s Ballet Folklorico de Oriente. A native of Santiago de Cuba, Temi became a member of the renowned Ballet Folklorico de Oriente in 1978. For thirty years he danced professionally with the company, performing throughout Cuba, the Caribbean, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Russia, and Africa. Temi danced as primer bailarin from 1979 to 2000 and worked as choreographer and professor with the company until 2000, when he became assistant director.
Muriel Johnson is an early childhood educator and storyteller, specializing in multi-cultural folk tales for children.
Liberation Dance Theater, directed by Jacinta Vlach, is a dance-theater collective rooted in ideologies of social change through artistic expression and community outreach. Jacinta Vlach began her dance training with Reginald Ray-Savage and furthered her studies at North Carolina School of the Arts and the Alvin Ailey
American Dance Center. Liberation Dance Theater draws upon movement from the Latin/African Diaspora, contemporary, and urban vernacular to reinvent rituals, eras, and social movements.
Yagbe Awolowo Onilu is a master drummer, singer, and teacher of African diaspora musical culture. First introduced at the age of eight to African drumming and percussion ensemble music in his birthplace of Cayes, Haiti, he has studied with world-renowned drummers and sacred religious personages, including Ladji Camara, Famudou Konate Faduba Oulare, CK Ladzekpo, Toumanie Diabate and Esteban "Chacha" Bacallao. He has studied throughout Africa and the Caribbean, conducting numerous research and residences in Senegal, Gambia, Guinee, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Cuba. Since moving to California in 1976, he has performed with Dimensions Dance Theatre, The African Music and Dance Ensemble, Fua Dia Congo, Ceedo Senegalese Dance Company, Balle Saba, Nuba Dance Theatre, Beatriz Ross Cultural Ensemble and Bantaba.
Alayo Dance Company, CubaCaribe’s resident dance company, unveils a new work, Grief (2011) exploring the physical, spiritual and material losses in the 21st Century in relation to war, immigration, natural disaster, and economic downturn. The award-winning Cuban-born dancer/choreographer and Company Director Ramon Ramos Alayo considers what psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross refers to as The Five Stages of Grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The resultant dance work, performed by Alayo, will be the culminating highlight of the Festival on the final weekend performed at Laney College Theatre. The company will also re-visit La Madre, which they premiered in 2005 as a poignant tribute to Ramos’ mother.
Michael Spiro is an internationally recognized percussionist, recording artist, and educator, known specifically for his work in the Latin music field. He has performed on thousands of records, co-produced and played on several instructional videos for Warner Bros. Publications, inducing ones by Talking Drums, Changuito, Giovanni hidalgo, and Ignacio Berroa, and produced seminal recordings in the Latin music genre, including Orquesta Batachanga, BataKetu with Mark Lamson, Mark Levine and the Latin Tinge, Grupo Ilu-Ana and BataMbira.
He currently resides in San Francisco, California where he is an integral part of the Bay Area music scene. He records and produces with groups throughout the West Coast, and still tours world-wide with the percussion trio "Talking-Drums," which he co-leads with David Garibaldi and Jesus Diaz. In June of 1996, his recoding with Mark Lamson, BataKetu was released to international critical acclaim, and was voted one of the top 50 drum records of all time by Drum Magazine, they debuted that material on the stage in 2002 with a performance grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in that same year he performed with his own group "Ara Meji" at the Monterey Jazz Festival, where he received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Percussion. In 2004 he received a Grammy nomination for his work as both producer and artist on Mark Levine's Latin/Jazz release "Isla." In 2005 he released his most recent recording "BataMbira" which is quickly received rave reviews, and was he was voted runner up as best percussionist in the jazz/fusion category in the 2005 Drum Magazine's Reader's Poll Awards.
Michael's recording and performing credits include such diverse artists as David Byrne, Cachao, The Caribbean Jazz Project, Dori Caymmi, Changuito, Richard Egues, Frank Emilio Flynn, Ella Fitzgerald, David Garibaldi, Gilberto Gil, Giovanni Hidalgo, Ray Holman, Toninho Horta, Bobby Hutcherson, Dr. John, Mark Levine and the Latin Tinge, Machete Ensemble, Bobby McFerrin, Andy Narell, Ray Obiedo, Chico O'Farrill, Eddie Palmieri, Lazaro Ros, David Rudder, Carlos Santana, Grace Slick, Omar Sosa, Talking Drums, Clark Terry, McCoy Tyner and Charilie Watts. In addition, he has recorded soundtracks to such major motion pictures as Soapdish, Henry and June, True stories, Sworn To The Drum, Walker, Eddie Macon's Run, and Dragon-The Life of Bruce Lee, and wrote several arrangements for the Tony Award winning Broadway show BLAST! which was released on video by PBS in 2002. Michael's books and recordings can be purchased on Amazon.com.
Yosvany Terry was Born in Cuba, where he received his earliest musical training from his father, Eladio "Don Pancho" Terry, violinist and Cuba's leading player of the Chekeré. His father was also known as the founder and director of the "Orquesta Maravillas de Florida," one of Cuba's most important charanga bands. Mr. Terry went on to receive his classical music training and graduated from both the prestigious National School of Art (ENA) and Amadeo Roldan Conservatory. While in Cuba, Yosvany was known for his musical innovation performing with the likes of legends, such as Chucho Valdez, Silvio Rogriguez, Fito Paez, and Cubanismo, as well as forming the influential group, Columna B. Their work represented the new voice of young Cuban jazz players. "Columna B became this limitless work-shop, where everything could be tried and experimented with. We learned how to polish and develop our craft in a very special and intuitive sense ", comments Terry. Columna toured throughout the US and Europe, and in 1998 premiered their Inroads Commissioned-piece by Arts International (through the Ford Foundation) at Stanford Jazz Festival.
Yosvany came to New York in 1999 and was immediately recognized as a "spectacular talent" in the Jazz scene, playing with Roy Hargrove, Steve Coleman, Eddie Palmieri, Dave Douglass, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, and bassist Avishai Cohen. "My move to New York represented an incredible time of growth as a musician, the move gave me access to so much information, and the opportunity to meet and work with talented musicians from all over the world." Always a student, Mr. Terry has absorbed and incorporated American jazz traditions with his own Afro-Cuban roots to produce compositions and solo work that flow from the rhythmic and hard driving avant-garde to sweet sounding lyricism. His voice and style are unique and complex, and with his new Quintet he has married Cuban and American musical traditions to create a new and exciting sound.
Now residing in New York City, Terry is known for melding the traditional sounds of his native Cuba with avant-garde innovation and fiery post-bop, sophisticated harmonies. He sits at the forefront of a group of young Cuban musicians who have recently inspired the city’s scene with a new creative energy. In Ye-dé-gbé, Terry explores the Afro-Caribbean Arará musical tradition – a style brought to Cuba by slaves taken from West Africa – in a collection of compositions with African percussion.
Rhythmic Uprising Film Synopsis
Rhythmic Uprising is a documentary that shows how the transformative powers of Afro-Brazilian performing arts are used to fight racism and inequality in Bahia, Brazil. The celebrated Afro-Brazilian region of Bahia is known for its vibrant dance and music manifestations. This film takes a look behind the scenes of those grandiose carnaval spectacles to see how local cultural leaders utilize these arts to change lives.
Bahia boasts the largest concentration of African descendants outside of Africa. As shown in Rhythmic Uprising, Brazil's blacks have used Afro-Brazilian cultural conventions to maintain their African heritage and wage war on poverty, racism, and oppression over the last four centuries. As freed slave communities called 'quilombos' did during the time of slavery, cultural leaders featured in the film are dismissing the racist, unbalanced power structures of modern Brazilian society by organizing their own microcosms. They cultivate social institutions based on equality and African heritage that function as refuge for at-risk black youth. In contrast to larger Brazilian society, these groups empower and encourage their youth to pursue brighter futures.
Cultural projects featured in the film include an all-women drum corps named DiDá, a circus group heavily rooted in Afro-Brazilian expressions named Circo Picolino, a theater group that portrays African myths named Bejé Eró and a Capoeira Angola association named ACANNE. Historical Afro-Brazilian cultural conventions featured in the film include capoeira, candomblé, quilombos, afoxês, and blocos afros.
Eliciana Nascimento - Co-Producer (BRASIL)
Eliciana Nascimento is currently president and founder of Candace Cine Video (www.candacecine.com), an independent production company in Salvador, Brazil. She's an experienced director and documentary filmmaker having worked in a number of productions in Salvador for both local and international media companies. Her involvement in Rhythmic Uprising has been very personal considering she was born and raised as an Afro-Brazilian in one of the marginalized communities (favelas) of Salvador featured in the film. Being born into daunting circumstances of poverty and exclusion, she has courageously pushed forth through social barriers all her life to achieve her roll as an author in the international digital media landscape. Like the youth featured in Rhythmic Uprising, alternative realities first appeared to her as a consequence of her involvement in local social projects where she developed as an artist in the world of theater and video production. Through relationships she formed there, she was able to pursue a degree in communications - being the first person in all of her extended family to have graduated from college. Today, as a filmmaker and media activist, she bridges social gaps between local media production entities and marginalized communities like the one she's from. She's currently enrolled in an MFA program in Cinema at SFSU.
Benjamin Watkins - Director (USA)
Benjamin is a broadcast and internet media producer in San Francisco. He has 12 years of experience studying African influenced music and society in a variety of countries including Ghana, Cuba, Haiti, and Brazil. He’s an experienced multimedia artist who has been working in both commercial and non-profit media initiatives for over 15 years. As an activist for human rights and social equality, he has devoted his time, energy, money, and skills to promote positive change for marginalized populations. He's financed Rhythmic Uprising from his own freelance activities in the world of commercial media. Merging his finances and production skills together with his sensitivity and cultural curiosity, he has committed the last five plus years of his life to completing this documentary as his contribution to fight for racial equality in Brazil while bringing light to the transformative powers of African cultures around the world.
Kati Hernandez was born and raised in Cuba, where she began her formal dance training and performance career at the age of 9 years old. She attended Art Schools in Cuba, where she cultivated her knowledge of Cuban folkloric and popular dance as well as Modern, ballet, choreography and staging. Her early performances include work with Cuban jazz master musicians such as Bobby Carcases and Chucho Valdez at Havana’s International Jazz Festival. She also worked with Afro Cuban music and performance icon Mercedita Valdez and with visual artist Manuel Mendive at the Bienal Internacional de la Habana, Manolito Simonet y Su Trabuco. She has performed in Spain, Portugal, the Bahamas and Costa Rica where she lived for five years. During this time, Ms. Hernandez also volunteered her time and skills teaching dance to girls and young women in impoverished communities throughout Central America. She worked to empower them to use dance as a medium for expressing emotions, experiences, hopes and dreams.
In the U.S. Hernandez has played a unique role in promoting and cultivating Afro-Cuban culture in Los Angeles by teaching and producing regular workshops and events aimed at exposing her students and the community to Afro Cuban master dancers, musicians and artists. She participates in the Albert Torres’ L.A. Salsa Congress and the San Francisco Rueda Festival.
Hernandez’s choreography includes, a musical production for the Ford Theater; “Tropicana in Hollywood,” where she also contributed as costume design advisor and production coordinator; dance installation, “Fire,” directed by Judith Davis and presented at Pomona College; “Healing Mars”; the UCLA film project, “Raiz” and the documentary film project the “The Eternal Rhythm.” A tribute piece for legendary Afro-Cuban master percussionist Francisco Aguabella, at Esalen International Arts Festival in Big Sur, California and for her collaborations with mentor Afro-Cuban folklorist Lazaro Galarraga. In June of 2010, she also formed her own Afro-Cuban dance and music ensemble, “Dancing from the heart.”