press & testimonials
IFE-ILE has earned much recognition in the press, as well as testimonials
and kudos from our audience members and workshop/class participants.
Below are several articles abour our organization
and festival, as well as testimonials from
festival and workshop participants.
"Whoof! What a weekend! www.colorado.edu/theatreda...ban07.html.
The group - IFE ILE came from Miami to grace our presence from
Thursday night Aug. 31st - Sep. 2nd with workshops everyday three
times per day. The group included instructors Neri Torres, Ezequiel
Torres, Yofvany Gonzalez, and Yanitzia Mizrahi.
The first night was a movie made by Lazaro Ros, which I unfortunately
couldn't make. My friends said it was really awesome, and that it
would be a good one to try to snag somewhere.
Then, they came to the CU campus where they first gave a full production
show on Friday night with lights, sound, costumes, dance, drum and
song on stage. It was really good and reminded me of the Humboldt
Afro Cuban camp's productions - though on a smaller scale.
Then, They gave workshops for the next two days on Rumba and Orisha
dances, bata drumming, and Chekere. Several of us local tumberos
accompanied the musicians each time they gave a dance class. They
somehow recognized that I could play and let me join them every
time. They were amazingly nice and open as well as being very accomplished.
Last night we ended the festival with a big 'Rumba Dance Jam'.
I met a bunch of new interested folks who may join our study group,
and got re-aquainted with several of the extended parties who come
and go from our Afro-Cuban local music scene.
Wow! What a great weekend!"
Mi name is Julie LeBrun, Im Canadian and I have a Latin
dance school which specializes in teaching Casino (Salsa Cuban style).
As a teacher, I have to continue to learn and when I went to Miami,
I wanted to know more about Casinos roots such as Son, Guanguancó
and also about Cuban folklore. I took private lessons with the Ife-Ile
Dance Companys director, Neri Torres and I have been very
impressed by the quality of her classes and dance technique. Its
an honor for me to have an apprenticeship with the great Neri Torres
in my CV and for sure, Im going to take more classes with
her to continue as my teacher and Latin dance mentor.
Tumbao Cubano dance school
"I think that it is vital to share and spread the root culture
of the dance that I fell in love with only 7 years ago. Your workshops
[at the 2006 Ife-Ile Afro-Cuban Dance
& Music Festival] were amazing and each instructor was far
beyond any expectations I could have had. I was honored to be among
the participants. And for anybody that needs to know: since you
showed Maribel my partner - and I those 8 thousand 8 hundred
and eighty eights, our movement has gotten 100% better. I would
just like to add as an instructor that I think to better overstand
your future progression of the dance you must understand its history.
Thank you for everything. Ache.
choreographer shares knowledge of dance
Published February 27, 2006 in the Oklahoma Daily O'Collegian
A Cuban choreographer talked about the origins
of salsa dance and music in Cuba during her speech Friday in the
Student Union Theater ... It [dance] is the spirit of our
people wanting to be free, Torres said. We got that
... Everybody has red blood and one heart, Torres said. We
just have to find our own beat. ... more
In the country's biggest minority, Latino artists fight stereotypes
that blur their artistry and their diversity
Published June 2005 in Dance Magazine
"In this multiethnic society, our struggles
at times seem more difficult -- due to differences in culture, language,
temperament," observes Torres, looking back on her career since
arriving in the U.S. in 1991. "But our differences are positive,"
she considers. "We must keep these idiosyncracies. They're
what define and make us unique." ... more
A Feast for the Spirits
AfroCuban culture takes center stage at the first festival to celebrate
the traditions and lifestyles of blacks from the island
Published September 21, 1999 in the Miami Herald
By Fabiola Santiago
Herald Staff Writer
When dancer-choreographer Neri Torres launched her Afro-Cuban dance
troupe five years ago, she searched the tongue of her ancestors,
the Yorubas of Africa, for a meaningful name.
She found it in ife ile, a phrase that means house of love, expanding
''Ife is a kingdom in Nigeria where, the Yorubas believe, God created
man,'' Torres said. ''It's the Olympus of the Yorubas.''
Torres is now taking the phrase and her love for her native culture
another step in her adopted Miami as the energetic mastermind of
a week-long festival, which starts Saturday and runs through Oct.
2, to celebrate the traditions and lifestyles of black Cubans.
The first AfroCuban Festival Ife-Ile promises to be anything but
Although the event features the traditional menu of music, dance,
art, food, film and panel discussions, most of the content spotlights
matters of the occult shrouded in mystery, and until now, seldom
exhibited in such a public event.
A series of panel discussions, for example, features scholars of
the AfroCuban santeria religion and people who have been initiated
as spiritists and babalaos, santeria priests. Exhibitors at a street
fair will include botanicas, the shops where people buy potions,
herbs and other materials for santeria rituals. Art installations
include altars to the goddesses Ochun and Chango, offerings and
Even ''tabaco para que la gente se despoje'' -- cigars to be used
in cleansing ceremonies -- will be available, Torres said.
Waving for thunder, lightning
And prepare to join a procession to celebrate Chango and to dance
a spirited conga along the streets of downtown Miami waving a red
handkerchief in salute to the goddess of thunder and lightning.
(You can buy the hankie at the fair or bring your own).
''I want to bring the joy and spontaneity of this culture to everyone,''
Torres said. ''The black class has always been mistreated and poor
and seen as second-class. But despite all that, it has contributed
a lot to universal culture, and this is the moment to come out and
The event comes at a time when AfroCuban culture is in vogue.
A staple of the new Cuban literature making its way around the
world, AfroCuban culture, and especially the practice of santeria,
has been recently the subject of art and photography shows in South
Florida and nationwide. The religion also has found a worldwide
audience on the Internet, where many santeros have set up several
Web sites to promote the santeria and sell its wares.
''It has become popular because it is a very spiritual culture,''
Most significantly, Torres' idea to stage a large-scale festival
that would open up the culture to others in South Florida has found
support from mainstream institutions.
Among those who contributed some $25,000 in funds are the Florida
Humanities Council, the Miami Beach Cultural Arts Council, the Miami-Dade
Cultural Affairs Council and the State of Florida Division of Cultural
Held at college downtown
The project is a collaborative effort of Miami-Dade Community College,
where most activities are being held in its downtown Wolfson campus,
the Artemis Performance Network, a service organization specializing
in grant-writing, fund-raising and project management, and Torres'
dance troupe, Ife-Ile AfroCuban Dance and Music Ensemble.
''Neri approached the college to see if we were interested, and
we jumped on the idea,'' said MDCC professor Mercy Quiroga, interim
director of cultural affairs. ''We thought it was something that
had not been done, a unique event. Given the interest manifested
in this one, we will probably work on making this an annual event.''
The response from the arts community also has been generous, organizers
said. Most of the professionals involved in the festival -- storytellers,
musicians, dancers, scholars, artists -- are donating their services.
''The AfroCuban culture is very under-represented in Miami,'' said
Susan Caraballo, executive director of Artemis. ''Elements of racism
come into play but within the last few years, there has been a keen
interest in developing the African traditions. The focus [of the
festival] is to keep the authenticity of it.''
A panel on Yoruba cooking, for instance, will explore the relationship
of food to worship.
''In the Yoruba culture, food has a dual role -- as sustenance
and as offerings to the gods,'' said Natividad Torres, Neri's sister
and a Yoruba specialist, writer and poet. ''People cook both to
eat and to make an offering.''
Among the tidbits to be learned: Chango's favorite dish is quimbombo
con harina, okra with cornmeal. Ochun, the goddess of love, prefers
arroz con pollo, chicken with yellow rice.
'Arroz con pollo' feast
On the last day of the festival, a giant pot of arroz con pollo
will be cooked and served to the street fairgoers.
Another highlight will be the premiere of the dance Guaguanco Oyelo
Bien (Guaguanco, Hear It Well), directed and choreographed by Torres,
a former dancer with the National Cuban Ballet, and performed by
her multicultural dance troupe.
Torres, who came to Miami in 1991 after a spectacular defection
in Italy that included press reports of attempts to kidnap her and
take her back to Cuba, is dedicating the performance to her late
mother, ''who taught me my first rumba steps.''
In the opening scene of Oyelo Bien, ''a futuristic'' Yemaya, goddess
of the sea, appears on stage as if in a silver dream.
''I wanted to present her in a modern form that would be accessible
to people here, different from the way she has been seen up to now,''
The choreography spotlights Cuban cultural idiosyncrasies.
A dancer, for example, will appear on stage carrying on his head
a glass of water, the traditional offering to deities, which is
often kept in Cuban homes as a way to ward off evil spirits.
And every rhythmic movement, every drumbeat weaves a story.
''This work presents the history of rumba
from the time of slavery to the present,'' Torres said. ''I want
to take out of anonymity the people who have shaped this dance.
The rumba was a way for black Cubans to deal with adversity. The
rumbas told the stories of what was happening in the barrios, the
solares -- everything from love stories, to neighborhood chronicles,
to odes to saints. The way of coping was to drink rum and dance.''
Miami Art Festival
An exhibition of Afro-Cuban Art will be presented including
works by prominent Cuban artists
Published September 19, 1999 in the Miami Herald
Activities celebrate Afro-Cuban culture
Miami-Dade Community College's Wolfson Campus, Artemis Performance
Network and Ife-Ile will salute the Afro-Cuban heritage with the
Ife-Ile Afro-Cuban Festival, a series of cultural events from Saturday
to Oct. 2.
The activities will include dance and music performances, film
screenings and panel discussions, culminating in a street fair on
Oct. 2. They will be staged in Miami Beach and Coral Gables, with
most taking place at the Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami.
Ife-Ile will open with the first-ever performance of Guaguanco
Oyelo Bien, a Cuban dance and music performance tracing the development
of the rumba. It will be choreographed by Cuban-born choreographer
and artistic director Neri Torres and performed by the Ife-Ile Afro-Cuban
Dance and Music Ensemble.
Other festival activities will include Words and Music, an evening
of poetry readings and music by performance poets Adrian Castro
and Lourdes Simon; master classes in dance taught by Neri Torres;
dance and drum workshops; panel discussions addressing issues that
have affected the evolution of Afro-Cuban culture; and an exhibition
of the works of Cuban artists Leandro Soto, Felix Mas, Jesse Rios,
Ezequiel Luis Torres, Xavier Cortada, Luis Molina and Santiago "Chago''
The final day of the Ife-Ile Afro-Cuban Festival will include an
all-day fair on and around the Wolfson Campus of Miami-Dade Community
College, 300 NE Second Ave., when Afro-Cuban traditions and musical
history will come alive.
Visitors can look forward to outdoor musical performances, Afro-Cuban
cuisine and the sights and sounds of drum-making demonstrations
and vendors specializing in traditional Afro-Cuban crafts.
Children will be entertained with storytelling, face painting,
puppet shows and other fun activities in a designated kiddies area.
The highlight of the day will be a brightly costumed conga performance.
It will feature traditional characters from the original comparsa
-- the ragged, the marquises, the zebra and others.
"Miami-Dade Community College welcomes
this opportunity to share the rich Afro-Cuban history with the community.
Learning about each other's culture leads to a better understanding
of the people we live and work with -- especially important in a
culturally diverse society such as South Florida's,'' said Eduardo
Padron, community college president.
The festival schedule is:
- Sept. 25: World premiere of Guaguanco Oyelo Bien, The Colony
Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach, at 8 p.m. Repeat performance
7 p.m. Sept. 26. Tickets available at theater box office or Ticketmaster.
- Sept. 27: Screening of film De cierta Manera by Sara Gomez,
8 p.m., Wolfson Campus Auditorium. No charge.
- Sept. 28: Panel discussion on ``Yoruba as a Way of Life,'' 6
p.m., Wolfson Campus, Breezeway Room. Screening of Tropicola by
Steve Fagin, with English subtitles, 8 p.m., Wolfson Campus Auditorium.
- Sept. 29: Panel discussion on ``Oracle and Divination,'' 6 p.m.,
Wolfson Campus, Breezeway Room. Screening of Oggun by Gloria Rolando,
8 p.m., Wolfson Campus Auditorium. No charge.
- Sept. 30: Panel discussion on ``Yoruba Cuisine,'' 6 p.m., Wolfson
Campus, Breezeway Room. Screening of Si me comprendieras by Rolando
Diaz, with English subtitles, 8 p.m., at the Wolfson Campus Auditorium.
- Oct. 1: ``Words and Music'' with performance poets Adrian Castro
and Lourdes Simon and music by the Ife-Ile Afro-Cuban dance and
Music Ensemble and the Bafoons; Ponce de Leon Circle Park, four
blocks south of Miracle Mile, Coral Gables. Outdoor event is open
to the public.
- Oct. 2: Street fair, Wolfson Campus.
For more information on the Ife-Ile Afro-Cuban Festival, call
Miami-Dade Community College at 305-237-3659.
Afro-Cuban Culture is Celebrated:
Afro-Cuban dance troupe IFE-ILE performed Saturday at the Miami-Dade
Public Library as part of the many events and exhibitions being
featured during Hispanic Heritage Month
Published October 21, 2004 by The Miami Herald
By Yolanda Sanchez
Laughing aloud, Neri Torres grabbed the bottom of her golden-colored
dress and twirled seductively, flirting with the audience as her
bare feet kept pace with the rhythm of the drums.
She is Ochun, the Yoruba goddess of love, Torres explained prior
to her performance Saturday at Miami-Dade County's Main Library.
"Ochun is all women. She is mother and daughter.''
The afternoon was filled with dance and cultural
information provided by Ife Ile, the Afro-Cuban dance troupe that
has taken on a mission to promote Afro-Cuban culture throughout
''It is important to promote the culture
as we are part of the Hispanic community,'' Torres said. ''We are
a minority inside a minority,'' she said estimating that only about
20 percent of Florida's Cuban population is of African descent.
"Our job is to educate people and support
all of the happenings of the community.''
Torres, who began dancing at the age of 12 in Havana, formed the
group in Miami in 1994. Two years later she officially founded the
organization to promote and develop cross-cultural understanding.
The group consists of 11 dancers and six musicians, who also have
toured with singer Gloria Estefan, Torres said.
During Saturday's performance, a CD player provided the music for
the four Ife Ile dancers who entertained an audience of about 40
at the library, 101 W. Flagler St. The presentation was one in a
series of programs the library is sponsoring during October to celebrate
Hispanic Heritage Month. Other activities include lectures, plays,
book readings, cooking lessons and a pre-Columbian Caribbean exhibition
''We are really into diversity in the Miami-Dade public library
because we are providing services to all areas,'' said Marivi Prado,
marketing and media relations coordinator for the library.
Ife Ile's performance was featured in the library's main auditorium,
which is showcasing the photography exhibit ''Presenting Celia Cruz.''
Enveloped by photos of the salsa diva, the group performed dances
such as the Son Montuno, which Torres explains, is known as "the
father of salsa.''
The Son Montuno is danced in a different beat then the salsa, the
downbeat, said Torres. Because people could not hear this down beat,
they created the salsa that is known today, Torres said.
When the dancers performed the rumba, which Torres calls ''the
heartbeat of Cuban music,'' Torres guided the audience to clap in
sync with the beat. By the end of the one-hour performance the audience
joined in a conga line then danced in a circle, lifting one leg
and hopping to the center of the circle with the other.
''I learned a lot about my roots that I did
not know,'' said Delia Bugallo, a resident of Coconut Grove who
came to Miami from Cuba, 35 years ago. ''I am prouder today then
I was yesterday,'' she added.
Hispanic Heritage Month events continue at libraries throughout
Miami-Dade. For information, call 305-375-BOOK or visit www.mdpls.org.