IN SEARCH OF SOUL
The 11th Annual CubaCaribe Festival of Dance and Music, In Search of Soul, April 9-26, will feature three exuberant weeks of Caribbean dance and music performances, master classes, film screenings, lectures and celebrations at three Bay Area venues, ODC Theater and Dance Mission Theater, both in San Francisco, and Laney College Theater in Oakland. The festival has been highly acclaimed for being the only festival to present popular, contemporary and folkloric cultural expression, religion, history, and politics of the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora. Entitled, In Search of Soul, this year’s theme will investigate what the spirit, core, heart, and essence of movement and culture is. Soul is defined as the spiritual part of humans, the essential element or part of something and is regarded separate from the body. This will be re-defined by our artists and their soulful movements, both that are deeply embedded in the connection and unification of the soul and the body.
WEEK 1: AFRICAN SOULS: CUBA & BRASIL
ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF
Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, April 10-11 and Sunday at 7 pm, April 12
The first performance weekend entitled African Souls: Cuba & Brasil will kick off at ODC Theater April 10-12. Performances will showcase a union of two of the richest souls in the Afro-Latino Diaspora: Cuba and Brasil. It will premier the work of five celebrated dance companies and will examine how their two countries differ, intersect and find common ground through dance. Featuring Abada Capoeira SF (Marcia Treidler), Aguas Dance Company (Tania Santiago), Alayo Dance Company (Ramon Ramos Alayo), Arenas Dance Company (Susana Arenas), and Teatro Brasileiro de Dança: the Bahia in Oakland (Isaura Oliveira).
WEEK 2: SOUL CARIBE
Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th Street, SF
Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, April 17 and Sunday at 7 pm, April 19
The second weekend, April 17-19, entitled Soul Caribe, will be staged at Dance Mission Theater and will feature our ever-popular Mixed Program whose dance companies represent the wide-reaching influence of the soul of Afro-Latino culture. From Africa to Colombia to Mexico to Puerto Rico to the United States, this eclectic offering of dance companies is sure to move you! This week will feature performances by Alafia Dance Ensemble (Afro-Haitian), Bravisimo Youth Ensemble (Afro-Cuban Modern), Colombian Soul (Colombian), Cunamacué (Afro Peruvian), Dimensions Dance Theater (African American), La Mezcla (Afro-Mexican), Aguacero (Afro-Puerto Rican), Grupo Experimental Nago (Afro-Cuban). The work of these artists promises to expand our notions of the folkloric and contemporary in the context of the Caribbean Diaspora.
WEEK 3: ALMA
Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon Street, Oakland
Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, April 24-25 and Sunday at 7pm, April 26
The third and final weekend of performances, April 24-26, moves across the Bay to Laney CollegeTheater. It will feature an innovative and diverse representation of Alma (soul) through the highly-acclaimed Afro-Cuban modern style of Alayo Dance Company (Ramon Ramos Alayo, Director), to the heart beat of Africa in Duniya Dance and Drum Ensemble (Joti Singh, Director), to the San Francisco Mission modern vision of Dance Brigade (Krissy Keefer, Director). It will take place at Laney College Theater in Oakland.
The special events throughout the three-week festival, round out the programming with not-to-miss discussions, practice and intellectual opportunities to explore the Diaspora further. These special events include:
April 9: Film Screening: “Dancing The Drum” Directed by Ashley James, Produced by Roberta Singer. A film about the legendary Cepeda family, known as the "patriarch family" of Bomba, Puerto Rico's richest musical expression of its African heritage. Q & A with the director following the film. Museum of the African Diaspora; 685 Mission St, SF; 7pm; $10 online, $12 door
April 12: “Batey Boricua” Bay Area Bomba y Plena Workshop and CubaCaribe invite you to celebrate life through music, dance, great vibes, good people and delicious food at a community jam session. Music from Puerto Rico: Bomba, Plena, and more. This is a family and child/youth friendly event. La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley; 4 -7 pm; $5 Donation
April 16: Lecture: De Curros a Especuladores: Black to the Future in Cuba by Umi Vaughn. This talk traces the relationship between a special class of black Cubans known as “Curros” from the island’s colonial past and Cuban youth today. At issue is how shifts in Cuba’s relationship with the outside world affect Cuban culture, economics, spiritual practices, etc., especially for black Cubans. Since history tends to repeat itself, this talk considers the past and present as a way to conjecture about Cuba’s future. Museum of the African Diaspora; 685 Mission St, SF; 7pm; $10 online, $12 door
April 19: Afro-Cuban & Afro-Haitian Dance Workshop. Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24 Street, SF; 3:30-5:00 pm; $14 online, $18 door
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Aguas de Bahia
Aguas de Bahia presents traditional and contemporary Afro Brazilian dance through performances, classes, cultural trips and SF Carnaaval since 1997. Artistic Director, Tania Santiago, a native of Salvador, Bahia, founded Aguas Dance Company in 1999 and has been teaching Afro Brazilian dance to all ages throughout the Bay Area since 1997. She leads annual dance intensives to Salvador each winter and for the past 10 years has had an award-winning contingent at the SF Carnaval Parade each spring. She is available for performances, collaborations, choreography consulting, workshops and Brazil trip consultation/leading. You can find her teaching at ODC/ Rhythm and Motion studios.
Alayo Dance Company
Alayo Dance Company was founded in 2001 by Ramón Ramos Alayo. Ramos Alayo articulates his creative vision through a synthesis of Afro-Cuban modern, folkloric and popular Cuban dance. Alayo is the resident company of CubaCaribe. Alayo has grown an audience far more diverse than most Bay Area modern dance circuits, attracting devotees of both contemporary and folkloric arts. It is known for tackling difficult issues such as slavery, racism and cancer, and since its inception has produced nine evening-length productions that have received both critical and popular acclaim. They have performed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area at venues such as Theater Artaud, ODC Theater, Dance Mission Theater, Herbst Theater, Laney Theater, Sonoma Country Wine Theater, and La Peña Cultural Center, and have presented work in the Black Choreographer's Festival, The CubaCaribe Festival, and Intersection's Culture and Flow. In 2010 Alayo was one of the first American companies to ever perform at the Annual Festival del Caribe at Teatro Martí. Alayo also performed at Teatro Mella in Havana, Cuba in July 2011. Alayo was featured in the article "Dance Across America" in National Geographic Magazine in 2006, and received the prestigious Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation's "Emerging Choreographer's Award" (2005) to develop his piece, Blood + Sugar. Ramos was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award nominee for the ensemble performance of Los Guedes, performed at CubaCaribe Festival (2006). Most recently, he was recognized as "Best Dance Dynamo" in the SF Bay Guardian's "Best of the Bay" (2009), and was the recipient of a SF Bay Guardian 2010 Goldie Award, hailed by dance critic Rita Felciano as "the best Afro-Cuban dancer whose choreography stands well beyond traditional modes."
Alafia Dance Ensemble
Valerie Watson founded Alafia Dance Ensemble (ADE) in 1995 because of a desire to showcase the intricate beauty of African Haitian Dance and Music. As a professor of Dance at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) since 1980 and a 3rd generation Dunham dancer and teacher, Ms. Watson began the company with students from African Haitian classes she taught at CCSF (a process that continues). Over the past 15 years Alafia Dance Ensemble has had the honor to perform in many venues which include: 30th San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, Haitian Flay Day Celebration at Ashkenaz, La Pena Cultural Center, Great American Music Hall, Presidio’s Golden Gate Club, Konbit 2nd Annual Haitian Dance, Music and Arts Festival, Cuba Caribe, Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater, and CCSF Dance Concerts. Artistic Director: Valerie Watson. Assistant Artistic Director: Mariella Morales.
Arenas Dance Company
ADC is a Cuban folkloric and popular dance company directed by Cuban-born Susana Arenas Pedroso. Arenas Dance Company has performed throughout the United States and local performances that have included the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival (2006, 2007), CubaCaribe (2005, 2006) and various colleges, such as Chico State. Susana Arenas Pedroso began her artistry in dance at age 12 when she took the opportunity to study at the Casa de la Cultura in Matanzas, Cuba. She began dancing professionally with Terra Virgen in 1991 and in 1992, she joined the theater and dance troupe Alafia Ire. She danced with Oched Olorum in 1993, and in 1994 she joined world renowned Compania Folklorica Raices Profundas as a soloist. After settling in the Bay Area, she merged her two former companies (Olorun and Sandunga Cubana) into Arenas Dance Company (2004), a company with a commitment to sharing Cuban culture in an accessible form for a wide audience.
Cunamacué 's mission is to promote the continuity of Afro-Peruvian culture, representing it not as a point in time, but as a living, vibrant and evolving form whose music and dance can be used as a means of expression. A reflection of its new environment, the San Francisco Bay Area, Cunamacué uses Afro-Peruvian movement vocabulary as well as movements inspired by modern dance aesthetics and dances of the African Diaspora to communicate themes that are universal to the human experience. Cunamacué is dedicated to sharing Afro-Peruvian dance with the community through performances, school residencies, and youth programs.
Grupo Aguacero is a performance and education project focusing on the traditions and contemporary creative expressions of Afro Puerto Rican Bomba music and dance. “Aguacero” literally means a sudden heavy rainstorm usually followed by a refreshing sky clearing and gust of sunshine. The spirit and practice of Bomba, like an “aguacero,” is intense, healing and promotes life and growth. Bomba is a living cultural music and dance form born in the sugar cane plantations of Puerto Rico over three hundred years ago. Used as a form of resistance and relief, Bomba provided a setting for enslaved Africans and Puerto Ricans to creatively express what they were living through daily as well as an organized means of rebellion against colonial powers. Through cultural resistance and family lineage, Bomba has been kept alive through many years of struggle and persecution. Aguacero is founded and directed by Shefali Shah with musical direction by Hector Lugo and the collaboration of Bay Area artists practicing, studying, and performing Bomba and other Puerto Rican folkloric traditions. Aguacero came together in 2007 with skilled musicians and dancers of the genre as a way to create and share new original works in Bomba and to share perspective and expressions of the genre rooted in the teachings of our masters and ancestors. Aguacero was featured in the 2008 West Wave Dance Festival at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and has collaborated and performed with Los Pleneros de la 21 from New York City, members of La Familia Cepeda, as well as other renowned masters and practitioners from Puerto Rico.