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IFE-ILE Afro-Cuban Dance Festival

Workshop & Event Descriptions

See the schedule for dates and locations, or Register to sign up now or get tickets! You may also want to see our instructor bios.

For Music Workshops (bata drumming, bembe, etc.), see below:

Dance Workshops & Rehearsals (see workshop descriptions below):

Levels: Workshops are offered to all levels.

Schedules/Timing: Be on time for your workshops! We do not have a lot of space for changing into dance clothes, so we recommend you wear your dance clothes (e.g., leggings) underneath your outfit. You will be able to show up as early as 8:45 a.m. to warm up. All workshops last an hour and 15 minutes, giving you 15 minutes between each workshop. After a class is over, you must exit the classroom ASAP.

Videotaping:: No videotaping is allowed during the workshops! Instructors may give you opportunity to tape at the end, but they are not required to do so. You are free to record in the halls after the workshops however.

Dance Attire/Shoes:Comfortable workout clothes -- leotards, tights, jogging suits; come ready to break a sweat. Women should wear wide skirts to wear for most classes; men should bring a handkerchief for rumba. For most classes you should be barefoot or wear dance shoes – no walking shoes are allowed in the dance studio.

Dance Workshop Descriptions:

Also see the instructor bios ...

Afro-Modern - Dance technique combining Afro-Cuban based dance movements with modern technique, influenced by Graham, Limon, Humphrey and Limon.
Arará
From the Fon people and the Arara kingdom of the Dahomean region, now known as Benin, Arará rhythms, songs and dances were introduced into Cuba, where many of those rituals and ceremonies are still practiced. One of the main characteristics of this style is the percussive use of the upper spine.

Congo - or Palo traditions come from the Bantú people of Central Africa (particularly from Congo). The Bantú represent the majority of African slaves coming into Cuba during the 17th and early 18th century; later the Yoruba (from Nigeria) became the primary group brought to Cuba as slaves. Drums and hand rattles are used in this music, which is based upon communication with ancestral spirits, the dead, as opposed to the Orishas. The songs and chants, often in a hybrid combination of Spanish and Bantú words, play a central role in the rituals of Palo. Music of this tradition has had a strong influence on popular music forms like Rumba, Son and Mambo. It has three distinctive styles: Yuka, Makuta and Palo, known as Congo cycle.

Cuban Salsa - Rueda de Casino
Casino/Rueda is an exhilarating form of Salsa dancing, which some people call Cuban Square Dancing because it involves couples exchanging partners. The term Casino comes from the fact that it started in the 1950s in a Havana social club called El Casino Deportivo, and was brought to Miami by the first wave of Cuban exiles. Over the years, Casino has grown not just in size but also in complexity and style, influenced by new contexts. There are dozens of turns, and each has a name and most have hand signals and are called by the male leader of the rueda. This form of dancing salsa is popular because of how it connects dancers with each other both physically and mentally.

Orishas - Sacred African dances originated in the Yoruba traditions of Nigeria-- the root of many Cuban popular styles. Dances for Orishas such as Yemaya, Eleggua, Ochun, Oya, etc., which represent omnipresent and anthropomorphous forces of nature

Rumba - It's and autochthonous Cuban genre of dance and music that has influence several other styles such as Son and the derivative Salsa. Afro-Cuban rumba is entirely different than ballroom Rhumba or the African style of pop music called rumba although they both draw their inspiration from it. Rumba developed in rural Cuba, and is very much alive in Havana, Mantanzas and other Cuban cities as well as rural areas. And in all rumba, the clave beat (2-3 or 3-2) plays a very important role. Rumba has three styles:

Rumba Yambu is the oldest known style of rumba, sometimes called the old people's rumba or "Rumba del tiempo de España" because of its slower beat. It's a partner dance that highlights the woman's sensuality while the male provides a gentle support. This dance does not use the vacunao – "vaccination" – a symbolic movement with sexual connotation used in rumba guaguanco.

Rumba Guaguanco is faster than yambu, with more complex rhythms, and involves flirtatious "chase" and sensual movements between a man and a woman. The woman "protects herself" from the man, who tries to catch her off-guard with a vacunao – a sharp movement thrust towards the woman- tagging her with the flip of a hankerchief or by throwing his arm, leg or pelvis in the direction of the woman, in a symbolic attempt at possessing her. When a man attempts to give a woman a vacunao, she uses her skirt to protect her pelvis and then whip off the man's energy away from her body. Like all forms of folkloric rumba, guaguanco is an excellent foundation for popular dance; it involves a lot of body isolation, postures and movements.

Rumba Columbia - In this fast and energetic style of rumba, with a 6/8 feel, solo male dancers provokes the drummers to play complex rhythms that they imitate through their creative fast pace and acrobatic movements. Men may also compete with other men to display their agility, strength, confidence and even sense of humor. Columbia incorporates many movements derived from Abakua, Yoruba and Congo dances as well as Spanish flamenco. More recently dancers have incorporated break dancing and hip hop moves. Unlike its all male specific origin, some women are also beginning to dance Columbia, too.

Gaga - A style brought to Cuba through the Haitian Revolution by African immigrants settled in Oriente, the eastern province of Cuba. It's an erotic and energetic dance. It uses a number of props: colorful banners, fire sticks and machetes in a lively competition.

Son (Traditional Cuban "on 2" dance) - Son is derived from Cuba's African and Spanish roots, and is the predecessor of what is now called salsa. Originally rural music that developed as an accompaniment to dancing, it became a popular in Cuba's urban areas in the 20th century. Eventually, it was adapted to modern instrumentation and larger bands. Traditional Son instrumentation could include the tres (a type of guitar with three sets of closely spaced strings), standard guitars and various hand drums and other percussion instruments. Many sons also include parts for trumpets and other brass instruments, due to the influence of American jazz.
Son, the dance, starts with the formal, closed embrace of the man and woman. The couple maintains a very upright frame, with quick flirtatious and sensual side-to-side movements of the shoulders, torso and hips accenting the underlying six count rhythm of the feet. Son is danced off the beat, so the couple moves on the half beat before one.

Cubaton - From the combination of the words Raggaeton and Cuba, this style develop from a fusion of Reggae, Dancehall, Latin Rap and Hip-hop, European club music and Cuban rhythms and culture. Cubaton provoked a music revolution because it has been embraced by the Cuban youth who favored it over Cuban traditional styles (Son, Mambo, Cha-cha-cha, etc.). Among the most popular Cubaton bands is Gente de Zona known as pioneering with popular bands such as Charanga Habanera to create the exciting sound blending Cuban Son and Timba with the style. The dance focuses on erotic and sensual pulsations of the pelvis accompanied by the torso in addition to other body isolations plus a mix of traditional Afro-Cuban dance and hip-hop moves.

Tumba Francesa - It is a ballroom dance in which the dancers try to imitate the Minuet, Rigodon and other French court dances with instruments of African origin. The dance consists of three distinctly differentiated parts from one another: the Mason, the Yuba or Babul, and the Fronde.


Music Workshop Description:

Batá Drumming - Batá drums are a set of three double-headed religious drums: The Iya, Itotele and Okonkolo. Sacred to Yoruba religion (from the Yoruba people of West Africa, primarily Nigeria and Benin) and Santeria, they have also been used in secular music such as salsa and jazz.
Tumbadoras –aka Congas are native from Cuba and have their roots in Congo traditions; hence the commercial version of the name. They have both sacred (ex. Bembe) and popular function. In the instrumentation of Rumba tumbadoras (or Congas) are commonly used in number of threes descending from low, medium to high pitch

Minor percussion - There are several instruments in Cuban music that are used to compliment the instrumentation thus adding to the polyrhythm of most of the styles. Some of them originated in Africa like the guiros (shekeres) or are native from Cuba like the Claves: maracas, cow bells, hoes, etc.

IFE-ILE experienced teachers will help beginning to advanced students learn or improve body position and posture, hand-to-hand work, correct tone, key rhythms and group work. The workshops will include open discussion about traditions and rhythms. Attendees should be encouraged to bring instruments, whatever drums/ shakers or bells they may have.

Levels: Workshops are offered to all levels.

Schedules/Timing: Be on time for your workshops! You will be able to show up as early as 9:00a.m. to warm up. All workshops last 50 minutes, giving you 10 minutes between each workshop. After a class is over, you must exit the classroom ASAP.

Videotaping:: No videotaping is allowed during the workshops! Instructors may give you opportunity to tape at the end, but they are not required to do so. You are free to record in the halls after the workshops however.

Dance Attire/Shoes: Comfortable workout clothes -- leotards, tights, jogging suits; come ready to break a sweat. Women should wear wide skirts to wear for most classes; men should bring a handkerchief for rumba. For most classes you should be barefoot or wear dance shoes – no walking shoes are allowed in the dance studio.

See the schedule for dates and locations, or Register to sign up now or get tickets! You may also want to see our instructor bios.