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Afro-Cuban Artists

We are aware that Cuban culture is in the spotlight due to President Obama's historical announcement that Cuba and the U.S. will restore diplomatic ties. Yet Afro-Cubans continue to face marginalization, particularly in the traditional arts world and we are interested in highlighting Afro-Cuban artists and projects we feel passionate about here. Additionally we want to challenge the notion that working in Afro-Atlantic traditional aesthetics and art forms are not contemporary or an important part of shifting racism, sexism, homophobia and creating just societies in our hemisphere.

Directorio de Afrocubanas is an online resource cataloguing Afro-Cuban women not just in the arts but in politics, science, sports and more run by Sandra Abd'Allah Alvarez Ramirez, founder of the blog Negracubanateniaqueser ( Here we have included women born not just in Cuba, but in other parts of the world as well.

Beatrice Capote

Beatrice Capote is a native of West New York, New Jersey where she began her dance training at Amaryllis Dance Academy.  She trained at The Ailey School in the Junior Division Pre-Professional Program and was featured in the book Attitude, Eight Young Dancers Come of Age at The Ailey School by Katherine Davis Fishman.  Ms. Capote graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and received a degree in Dance Education from Montclair State University in New Jersey. 

Ms. Capote has performed and worked with the following artists and companies: INSPIRIT, under the direction of Christal Brown; Rehearsal Director for Camille A. Brown and Dancers; Toni Renee Johnson's Mavericks Dance Company; Dawud Jackson's Wells Performance Project; Sita Frederick's Areytos Performance Works; Earl Mosley's Life Dance Company; assisted Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Rehearsal Director Matthew Rushing for the Park Avenue Armory Gala event; Antonio Brown; Kyle Abraham/ Abraham.In.Motion; and a live performance in Central Park for the Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace, aired live on ABC news.

Ms. Capote has taught Arts in Education Programs at The Ailey School, Sociedad Educativa de las Artes, Children’s Aid Society, Bronx Charter School of the Arts, and the YMCA. She has worked as an after-school Program Coordinator at South Bronx Economic Development Corporation, overseeing several Arts and Educational programs.   Ms. Capote has choreographed and performed her solo work as a guest artist for ASHA Dance Company at the Eric Dolphy Jazz Festival.  Recently, she was chosen to perform her solo work at the Martha Graham Studios for West Fest Dance Festival, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD), Pregones Theater and the 2015 Battery Dance Festival. She received a grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council to choreograph and show new works at the Pier 17 South Street Seaport.  In addition, she has set her works at the Earl Mosley Institute of the Arts Summer Intensive Program and Fort Wayne Ballet Summer Intensive Program.

Currently, she is on the faculty at The Alvin Ailey School, Joffrey Ballet School, Adjunct Professor at Montclair State University, and is a company member with Camille A. Brown and Dancers. She continues to perform her solo work at various venues.

Maya Berry

Berry is a social anthropologist specializing in performance studies and African diaspora studies. Her work uses a black feminist approach to understand racialized and gendered experience, social formations, performance practices, and political imaginaries. Using performance as an analytical lens, Berry focuses on both the movements of body politics and the corporeal bodies that constitute those political movements. This allows for consideration of how political economy, racial formation, and embodiment all play a role in political praxis.

From 2016 to 2017 Berry was a Postdoctoral Associate at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University, where she taught a course on dance ethnography, Afro-Cuban dance, and Cuban history, cross-listed in the Music Department, Theater Studies, African-American Studies, and the Ethnicity, Race, & Migration Program.

Berry’s current research examines what existing movements toward black self-making in the contemporary “post-Fidel” era can teach us about the Cuban Revolution’s “updating” economic model and visions for its future. Contemporary Cuba is marked by the expansion of the private sector and the amplification of racialized class inequality. Black-identified collectives are responding to these conditions through a range of ideological repertoires, from market pragmatism to religious aesthetics. These movements are challenging modernist, nationalist paradigms of political action, as well as dominant narratives of "socialist" versus "capitalist". Taken as a whole, Berry’s research explores the sacred and secular dimensions of black political lives within and beyond state institutions.

LucreciaBrenda Navarette - As a Precussionist/Singer/Dancer this young brilliant talent is moving barriers as a Afro-Cuban percussionist in the jazz, traditional and contemporary music worlds. Her path is in part paved by her equally talented sister, Melvis Santa.

Black and Latino - This short film is extremely important as a testimonial and educational resource on Afrolatinidad in the United States. Six of the few entertainers interviewed are of Afro-Cuban descent: Gina Torres, Laz Alonzo, Soledad O'Brien, Mimi Valdez and Christina Millian. This is Gina Torres extended interview.


Coco Fusco - As an Interdisciplinary Performance Artist & Scholar Fusco is one of the most important cultural critics of our times and had created a stunning body of work that probes our perceptions of the "other" and has also just completed a book on performance art in Cuba. This is an excerpt from Observations of Predation in Humans: A Lecture by Dr. Zira, Animal Psychologist (2013) at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Creative Time - Coco Fusco presents "A Room Of One's Own: Women and Power in the New America"

Las Krudas Cubensi - Not only known for spitting, sharp politicized lyrics that place women at the center of their concern and societal critique, the now duo, originally featured Afro-Cuban lyricists and sisters Odaymara Pasa Kruda and Wanda Cuesta Kruda as well as Olivia Prendes. Check out their website for shows and workshops in Austin, TX where they are now based here.

Yesenia Selier Fernandez is a scholar/dancer born in Havana, Cuba now living in West New York, NJ earning a PhD at NYU in Media and Cultural Studies. She teaches and performs Afro-Cuban dance in New York, Miami, Cuba and around the U.S. She is also mother to triplets who are talented visual artists.

Yesenia Fernandez Selier - Performer, Researcher, Teacher from Callejero Films inc on Vimeo.