CubaCaribe proudly presents and celebrates the 10th Annual festival of dance and music! It will feature three exuberant weeks of Caribbean dance and music performances, master classes, film screenings, lectures and celebrations throughout the Bay Area that move the festival forward into the next ten years and beyond.
The first performance weekend, is a mixed program entitled Moving Forward kicks off at Dance Mission Theater. In honor of the festival’s theme, Artistic Director, Ramon Ramos Alayo, hand-selected six exceptional dance companies from past festival participants and asked that they create new work that pushes the boundaries, melds, or speaks to the evolution of their genre. This week will feature performances by Alafia Dance Ensemble, Alayo Dance Company, Cunamacué, Duniya Dance & Drum Company, Las Que Son Son, Las Puras, Nicole Klaymoon’s Embodiment Project. The work of these artists promises to expand our notions of the folkloric and contemporary in the context of the Caribbean Diaspora.
April 5: Dance Workshop @ Dance Mission Theater, SF
April 9th: Lecture @ MoAD, SF
April 11 -13: Performances @ Dance Mission Theater, SF
The second performance weekend entitled Alayo, Aguas and Arenas will premiere the work of three of the Bay Area’s most powerful dance companies: Alayo Dance Company (Ramon Ramos Alayo, Director), Aguas da Bahia (Tania Santiago, Director) and Arenas Dance Company (Susana Arenas, Director).
April 16: Film Screening @ MoAD, SF
April 17- April 19: Performances @ Laney College Theater, Oakland
April 27: Closing Night Party / CubaCaribe Fundraiser, Location TBA
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: Dance Workshop: Bomba/Tumba Francesa co-taught by Shefali Shah (Bomba of Puerto Rico) and Cheo Rojas (Tumba Francesa of Cuba). Both masters in their respective cultural traditions, this dance workshop will make connections to the influence of Haiti in each cultural expression and the similarities to each other. Gladys 'Bobi" Céspedes Lecture/Demo: The Yoruba Tradition In The Diaspora, Lucumi Migration to the USA. Led by musician and Lucumi priestess, Gladys "Bobi" Cespedes, this interactive presentation will explore the development of the Lucumi traditions of music and religion in the United States, paying particular attention to other Yoruba derived traditions present in the US. Historical and traditional facts and general philosophical views of the Yoruba/Lucumi and the ancestors will also be discussed. Film Screening: Tengo Talento, Cuba 2014, Dir. Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi. Q& A with Director following film. Tengo Talento is about the new generation of talent in Cuba. Travel on a journey from Havana to Santiago as world-renowned artists take to the streets, searching for the next stars in their respective fields - Jazz, Hip Hop and Rumba. The film features Julito Padrón, Jennyselt Galata Calvo and Yrak Saens. The Festival will close with an energetic Cuban Dance Party/Fundraiser. The party will feature Cuban music, dancing, a live rumba, food and drink. Proceeds of the dance party will benefit the festival.
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 Tuesday's and Thursday at 8:15 pm and Saturday's at 10:00.
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 Morale
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.
Embodiment Project (EP) is a street dance theater company based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our mission is to promote an appreciation and understanding of various street dance forms by presenting original, multi-media works to diverse audiences while challenging traditional approaches to concert dance. We use movement, live song, theater, and spoken word to humanize stories often silenced by mainstream culture. We create emotionally transparent and autobiographical narratives that serve as unifying political acts and vehicles for social change. Embodiment Project was founded in 2008 out of Artistic Director Nicole Klaymoon’s desire to create a bridge between contemporary concert dance and Afro-diasporic social dance forms. Klaymoon feels called to contribute to a legacy of female dance-makers who illuminate what dominant culture masks or buries. She identifies as an eco-feminist choreo-poet, someone who dynamically combines spoken word and dance to invoke an emotional response from audiences regarding the interconnectedness between the oppression of women and nature.
In addition to live performances, Embodiment Project’s vision is share their passion and knowledge of street dance, culture, and history, as well as their innovative ‘choreo-poetic’ method with diverse communities.
The name is a double-entendre of the company's vision. The company performs technically pure dances with the unique "pura" flavor - an attitude Cubans associate with women who celebrate the ageless gift of style, grace and passion. Coming together energetically, the company performs the purist roots of Cuban dance with beauty and spirit. Moving beyond boundaries of age, space and place, Las Puras is a diverse group of women whose dance is representative of the cultural legacy and traditions of Cuba. Led by artistic director Yismari Ramos Tellez, the company is known for its technical authenticity and range of repertoire from Son to Jazz, from Rumba to Cabaret. Las Puras takes pride in sharing the gift of their dance. The company is available to perform for events, clubs, parties and corporate functions - any event that would like lively entertainment.
Creative Director, Yismari Ramos Tellez- Cuban dancer and choreographer Yismari Ramos Tellez graduated from the National School of Art in Havana, Cuba with a degree in modern and Afro-Cuban folkloric dance. For over a decade, Yismari danced with the Ballet de la Televisión Cubana in Havana. She regularly performed on television, in video, and in live shows for the top bands in Cuba. Yismari also performed Son, Mambo, Cha-cha-cha, and Salsa with the renowned Lady Salsa. She toured in Italy, Russia, Spain, Holland, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, The Canary Islands, France, England, Germany, Ecuador, Canada, and Panama. Yismari is currently the artistic director for Las Puras, artistic director, choreographer, and soloist of Las Que Son Son and sings with Dos Four y los Mios, a Cuban reggaeton and salsa band.
Las Que Son Son
Las Que Son Son, founded in 2006, is a San Francisco based, all-women dance company performing a broad repertoire of Cuban dance genres ranging from contemporary popular to traditional folkloric. In 2008, Las Que Son Son began working with Cuban dancer and choreographer Yismari Ramos Tellez, and in 2009 Ramos assumed the role of artist director of the company. LQSS dancers have studied with the prominent Cuban, Haitian, and Brazilian dance instructors of the San Francisco Bay Area, and are trained in such dance forms as flamenco, ballet and modern. The company's performance history includes San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival (2008, 2009); CubaCaribe Festival of Dance and Music (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010); Storm of Roses (2008); San Francisco Salsa and Rueda Festival (2009, 2010, 2011); and numerous club events and private soirees. The mission of Las Que Son Son—to study and perform dance in a collaborative environment—is based on the notion that dance is a vital artistic practice that shapes community and builds solidarity among diverse cultures, ethnicities and ages.
Gladys "Bobi" Cespedes
An acclaimed folkloric singer, dancer and percussionist; she is a recording artist, theatrical director, storyteller, accomplished historian, lecturer, and cultural arts teacher. She sings in three languages: English, Spanish, and Lucumi, the mother tongue of the descendants of the Yorubas of West Africa in Cuba. She makes and plays a variety of authentic folkloric percussion instruments, including the Chekere, a beautiful beaded calabash gourd. As a storyteller, she weaves the tales of the Orisas - deities of the Yoruba pantheon - in fluid word and gesture and illustrates the poetic, reverent vision of God and nature that is her ancestral heritage. As a dancer, she gives color, form and exuberant life to the intricate, polyrhythmic music of the Caribbean. As a priestess and IyanIfa in the Yoruba-Lucumi spiritual tradition, she carries unbroken the cord of spiritual tradition and inspiration which joins the past with the present. For over thirty years, Bobi has been directly involved in the preservation and teaching of Afro-Cuban culture and traditions.
Muriel Johnson is an early childhood educator and storyteller, specializing in multi-cultural folk tales for children. Muriel was born and raised in Salisbury, MD. She grew up in an environment where language was celebrated. Her mother was an English teacher, actress and avid reader. As a child Muriel would sit in awe as her mother would read and tell stories, sing songs and recite nursery rhymes. "I heard Mother Goose, foreign folk tales, Paul Lawrence Dunbar to Shakespeare...a little of everything." By the age of five Muriel had acquired an extraordinary vocabulary, soaring imagination and gift of expression. As a storyteller Muriel shares her passion and warmth with audiences of all ages: Performing for pre schools, libraries, parties, festivals and churches. She has traveled throughout the United States, the Fiji Islands and lived in Central America. Through her travels she has gathered stories, songs and an appreciation for diverse cultures.
A graduate of UC Berkeley, he received his MA degree from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Prior to graduation, the Pan-African Film Festival honored Eli with the Student Filmmaker Award for his first solo feature length film, Investos: Hip Hop Cubano. Eli continues to utilize music as a tool to provide insight into culture and socio/political community struggles. In 2010, he released his second film, Home Grown: Hip Life in Ghana. His current production Revolucion Sin Muertos “Revolution Without Death” captures a youth movement in Comuna 13 in Medellin, Colombia, where Hip Hop is utilized to empower a Peace Movement. His work has circulated through the National Broadcast: Free Speech TV, Teaching Channel and PBS. Eli has been awarded grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, James Irvine Foundation, Zellerbach Family Fund, and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. He was honored in 2005 with a Webby Award for Best Political Website. Currently, Eli is curating the Fifth Annual FistUp Film Festival in Berkeley, California. His dedication to his craft is deeply connected to his commitment to social justice and the belief in the transformative power of film.