Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Okantomi & Afro Cuban Dance

During the early 20th century Afro-Cuban art went through a period of rediscovery. In the past, the art form had only being represented to the mass bu white artists who ¨discovered¨it or took an interest to it. Many images displayed by white artists tended to have very stereotypical images of Afro-Cubans. Artists such as Cuban poet Nicholas Guillen emerged with art that truly represented the Afro Cuban population and the traditions they had brought with them to Cuba when they arrived as slaves including music, poetry, and dance. Now in Cuba, Afro-Cuban art plays a huge role. We were able to enjoy a form of this art on Thursday June 9th when we visited the dance group Okantomi.
With infectious beats, eclectic voices and hard steps, Okantomi communicated with deities from the Yoruba religion and told stories of a man selling fruit and a woman washing clothes. The show represented many music genres made popular by Afro-Cuban artists such as Son and Cha Cha Cha. As a dancer myself I enjoy witnessing many genres of dance. At one point during the show, Okantomi requested the hand of the students and taught us dance moves. Since the reemerging, Afro-Cuban people have been able to retain their art-forms and represent it to the world with Afro Cuban artists. Okantomi has traveled all over Cuba and has even performed in the United States.

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