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Obini Odara Workshop Series

Obini Odara: Afro-Cuban Song and Dance Workshops

In recognizing Afro-Cuban arts and culture are increasingly growing and becoming more accessible to multicultural audiences in the U.S. Lukumi Arts has launched a dance workshop series this week (@Los Pleneros de la 21 Space, 1680 Lexington Ave. Rm.213 New York, NY) featuring Afro-Cuban women artists based in the U.S. After co-organizing workshops for Freila Merencio Blanco, we strongly advocate that Afro-Cuban performance promotes community values of unity, collaboration, understanding and acceptance pertinent to human existence. We acknowledge the cultural diversity in the Afro-Cuban arts community as a positive force, which reflects a community that upholds these values. Nevertheless this cultural process has also rendered problematic stereotyping, appropriation and power dynamics that often marginalize Afro-Cuban artists themselves as is typical throughout Afrodescendant arts communities. Our series, Obini Odara, features Cuban-born Afro-Cuban women dancers alongside an emerging generation of American-born women akpón singers of Cuban/Caribbean descent including veteran Rita Macias (dance), emerging vocalist/performer Yomaira Garcia (song) and Jadele McPherson (organizer/song). Our collective presence will further promote a sense of awareness, respect and appreciation of the contributions of women in Afro-Cuban arts not just historically, but also those made in the present. These women artists will be supported musically and by a student base that reflects the multicultural Afro-Cuban arts community still plagued by racism, sexism, homophobia and their intersections, which particularly marginalize women of African descent. Obini Odara is one of our positive, hopeful interjections to this contemporary silence which we will continue to address through our new projects for 2011-12.

Rita Macias, Master Afro-Cuban Dancer

Macias is a renown, veteran Afro-Cuban dancer, choreographer and teacher born and raised in Havana, Cuba. In Cuba Macías studied with Evelio Puerta de Aspirina and began her career in 1968 dancing with renown groups such as the Teatro Latinaoamericano of the Marti theatre, Grupo Pataki, Grupo Plaza de la Revolución, and the Afortunados. After relocating to New York with her family over 20 years ago she began her career as a dancer in New York becoming an integral part to a resurgence in Afro-Cuban arts in the 1980s joining the founding of Nueva Generación directed by the late Orlando “Puntilla” Rios, the Conjunto Afrocubano with Pedro Mollejón, and Raices Habaneras a group that received a Grammy nomination in 2003. She has also performed with Carambú (bomba y plena), Son de la Loma with Armando Sanchez, and Ochun Oba Yeye that toured for several years in Puerto Rico beginning in1983. She specializes in orisha and rumba Afro-Cuban styles and is one of the best Afro-Cuban female performers residing in the U.S.

Rita Macias Oyá

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