Saturday, December 3, 2016

Afro-Caribbean legacy: Visit "La Sirene" this weekend

The Afro-Cuban Lukumi Arts--founded in 2008 as "an open and growing collective of artists, orisha/palo priests and practitioners, singers, dancers, percussionists, MCs and producers"--presents La Sirene: Rutas de Azucar at Brooklyn's JACK performance space now through tomorrow evening. Dedicated to the Black mermaid water deity who protected Haitian sugarcane workers on their way to Cuba, the 90-minute program is an immersive experience created by a thriving network of multi-talented, accomplished artists dedicated to the continuing relevance of Afro-Atlantic history and spiritual culture especially in our time of renewed resistance to oppression.

For four days, singer/performer Jadele McPherson in collaboration with Director Charlotte Brathwaite, offers a cosmic sonic journey through black liberation figures, conjurers and spiritual leaders from Haiti and Cuba, surrounded by fellow performers Val Jeanty, Maxine Montilus, Yomaira Gonzalez, Caridad Paisan Garbey, Bembesito Akpon, Hansel Vaillant and Daniel Gil. La Sirene: Rutas de Azucar (“The Siren: Routes of Sugar”) probes Cuban revolutionary José Antonio Aponte's libro de pinturas, a book of paintings, of black heroes that served as a catalyst for an attempted rebellion against colonists, leading to the first conspiracy and abolition charge in Spanish-speaking Latin America. Through sound and movement, McPherson maps the connections between West Indian and Haitian migrations to Cuba to harvest sugarcane and repositions the Cuban ingenio (sugar mill) as a birthplace of freedom that extends beyond borders and waters.

Each performance is followed by a special event. Tonight's--on the eve of Santa Barbara/Shango's day--the cast will offer "Afro-Cuban Rumba for the Vispera de Santa Barbara-Chango." Sunday evening will conclude with "Healing Quisqueya and Beyond," a reference to the Taino name for the island including the nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This panel features Dr. Nathalie Guillaume, Goussy Célestin, Jose Perez and Osvaldo Lora.

Dr. Nathalie Guillaume is an alumnus of the University of Miami where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry and Foreign Languages. She holds a Master of Science in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine from the Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine, and a Clinical Doctorate in Pain Management & Oncology from Bastyr University. She specializes in lifestyle medicine with an emphasis on nutrition, meditation & Qi Gong, and is dedicated to promoting the benefits of holistic health to the community. She is currently adjunct faculty for the Graduate School of Oriental Medicine at the New York College of Health Professions and practices in New York City where she is the CEO and Medical Director of Healing Happy Hour.
Goussy Célestin currently performs throughout the NYC-Tri state area as a musician and dancer. She is an alum of ASE Dance Theater Collective, a neo-folklore ensemble dedicated to the traditional/contemporary arts of the African Diaspora filtered through Haitian music and dance. She is also a member of ¡Retumba!, an all-female multi-ethnic music-dance ensemble dedicated to the traditions of the Caribbean and Latin-America, in addition to serving as lead vocalist for Charanga Soleil. Ms. Célestin's wide range of interests and versatility, has led her to study classical piano, Jazz and Latin music. While in Cuba, she had the honor of performing with members of the Buena Vista Social Club, as well as performing/mentoring with members of Grupo AfroCuba de Matanzas, Yoruba Andabo and Clave Y Guaguanco. She has performed at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, Del Terzo Studio at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, SOB's, the Knitting Factory, NJPAC, Tilles Center, Newark Symphony Space, Joe's Pub, as well as various jazz clubs in NYC.

Osvaldo "Bembesito" Lora. Bembesito is one of the most renowned and versatile "akpons" in the U.S. and maybe even internationally speaking. With over 10 years of experience performing religious ceremonies and as an olo Obatala he brings a level of professionalism that is hard to find in most ceremonies. Bembesito's crew does it all, from cajon to guiro to Aña and even the music of the 21 divisions from the Dominican Republic also called los palos. Over all the experience you will receive at a ceremony where Bembesito performs will be clean, authentic, professional and like no other...

Jose Perez is a writer and editor, an investigative reporter, a West Indian Nationalist, and a public school history teacher at North Miami Middle School where over 80% of his students are Haitian.  He infuses social justice into  his underground curriculum, which has led to him to become a leader in professional development trainings to teachers in the Miami-Dade County Public School System, the 4th largest in the United States. Pérez also was a  Research Assistant for Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando during the production of her moving documentary about Haitians in Cuba,
Reembarque.  Collaborating with and Dr. Andrea Queely of Florida International University, he brought Ms. Rolando to North Miami Middle for her only Florida screening of Reembarque.  Pérez has been recognized by the Haitian American Cultural Society as well as the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners of Miami-Dade County for journalistic coverage of Haitian heritage. Perez's interest in the bridges between Ayiti & Kiba is as deep as the joy found in a plate of homemade legume.

La Sirene: Rutas de Azucar continues tonight and tomorrow with performances at 8pm. Seating is limited. For more information and tickets, click here.

505 1/2 Waverly Avenue (between Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue), Brooklyn

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