Bán - Band or group of people organized with a definite goal.
Rarra - People dressed in costumes; To dance together the characteristic dance of the Cuban Carnival (comparsa)
Grupo Bán Rarra was formed in 1994 by Isaias Rojas Ramirez. He is the group's choreographer, researcher and also a musician and dancer. Sr Rojas is a graduate of the Instituto Superior de Artes de Cuba (ESA)
In the late nineteenth century, many refugees from the Haitian Revolution settled in eastern Cuba. Prior to the revolution Haiti was the richest and most oppressive colony in the Americas. The revolution was so violent and bloody that Haiti has not recovered to this day.
These refugees, both black and white started coffee and sugar cane production in eastern Cuba. They also brought their Afro-French culture and religions to add one more ingredient to the Mullato culture of Cuba.
Sr Rojas and the entire group come from Guantanamo, the eastern-most province of Cuba, and are descendants of these Haitian refugees. His research specialty is the investigation of Voodo in Guantanamo. Bán Rarra performs the results of his research, displaying the Cuban-Haitian traditions that are alive in eastern Cuba.
The group consists of thirteen individuals; six dancers and seven musicians, some of whom also dance.
The group, while performing dances and music handed down from previous generations is also highly trained. The dancers are all graduates of the dance program of the Escuela Nacional de Arte.
Sr. Rojas formed the group in Guantanamo and moved them to Havana in 1996. Bán Rarra rehearses four days a week, unless there is a show that day. The group has one regular gig per week, pool side at the Hotel Villa Panamericana on the outskirts of Havana. They also do workshops and shows for foreigners on occasion.