ORISHAS - Música Para Danzar, recorded in Santiago de Cuba in 2006, features the most outstanding members of the internationally renowned Ballet Folklórico Cutumba, one of Cuba’s most vibrant folkloric dance troupes.
Berta Armiñán’s intoxicating renditions of Yemayá have entertained live audiences around the world & her magnificent essence is finally captured in this recording. Cantante Ernesto Armiñán, choreographer of Cutumba & artistic director of the Tropicana Santiago, pays homage to his santa – Ochún – in this soul-stirring, original interpretation. Rafael Cisnero’s voice is unmistakable as he sings, spontaneously & straight from the heart, to Elegguá & Changó.
The percussionists are truly virtuosos. Ramón Márquez, Cutumba’s musical director, is featured along with Rolando Gómez & Diango Sanchez, the 3 of whom have played together in folkloric representations & religious ceremonies for many years. Yoanis Carrión, Cutumba’s youngest musician, is following faithfully in the footsteps of his teachers.
This recording was produced with the idea of helping students of Orisha dance to deepen their understanding of the music & develop more confidence & independence. The tracks consist of commonly heard toques with clearly defined transitions. For example, Elegguá follows a very simple progression from La Topa to Ynongo to Chachalokuafun. After learning the distinct steps & figures of each toque, dancers can develop their own choreographies and thoroughly enjoy danzando para los Orishas.
The Ballet Folklórico Cutumba is undoubtedly one of Cuba’s most vibrant folkloric dance companies. Based in Santiago de Cuba in the Oriente province of eastern Cuba and founded in 1963, Cutumba performs Afro-Cuban-Franco-Haitian dance and music with a special focus on preserving the rich heritage of the region.
Their vibrant and varied repertoire includes the captivating Orisha dances honoring the divine beings of the Yoruba pantheon, each with their characteristic movements and expressions which may simulate childlike games, declarations of peace and war, love – both romantic and maternal, as well as changes in the weather. The sensual and jubilant Cuban-Haitian dances, typically seen in the Eastern provinces (or Oriente) of Cuba include vodú, congo layé, masún, gagá, ibo & merengue haitiano. Several of the choreographies include colorful medleys of these rarely presented dances. “Rumba Cubana” demonstrates the 3 forms - yambú, guaguancó & columbia - of this very popular Cuban street dance, & the mesmerizing cutara, with its dynamic rhythms tapped out by the wooden soles of the dancers’ sandals, is intriguing. From the world famous Santiago de Cuba Carnival celebration, the spectacular Conga Santiaguera with its blaze of color, complex poly-rhythms & sensual movements, has the entire audience up on their feet & dancing.
Ballet Folklórico Cutumba incorporates the key elements at the heart of the Afro-Cuban & Afro-Haitian traditions – adding its own fresh interpretation through stunning theatricality, intoxicating vocals and rhythmic percussion. On stage, Cutumba brings to life the folkloric traditions intrinsic to Cuba’s living legacy. Off stage, the ensemble brings the energy & exuberance contained in their performances to a host of activities ranging from dance & percussion workshops to lectures & demonstrations. These activities provide an even greater opportunity to experience the richness of the Cuban culture.