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Ballet Folklorico Cutumba

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Seattle (WA), United States 2007 1 0
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Ritmos Cubafricanos Vol. 1 & 2
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Afro-Cuban $19.99 Buy_now_audio
José Carrión, former principal dancer & corps professor of Ballet Folklórico Cutumba de Santiago, now teaches dance & percussion on a regular basis out of his Seattle-based studio. His performance group, ¡Todo Folklore! brings to life the folkloric traditions intrinsic to Cuba’s living legacy. On stage or off, it’s an honor & privilege for José to share with you the knowledge & experience he acquired over the 25 years spent dancing with Cutumba.

The Academy of Cuban Folklore & Dance welcomes the participation of all who are interested in learning about Cuban dance & music regardless of age, gender or experience. ¡Todo Folklore!, under the artistic directorship of José Carrión, former principal dancer and corps professor of Ballet Folklórico Cutumba de Santiago de Cuba, is a Seattle-based performance group that presents the folkloric dance traditions of Cuba.

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, gaga, ibo & meringue 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 polyrhythms & sensual movements, has the entire audience up on their feet & dancing.

¡Todo Folklore! performs Afro-Cuban-Haitian dance and music with a special focus on preserving the rich heritage of the Cuban people. ¡Todo Folklore! 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, ¡Todo Folklore! 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.

José Alfredo Carrión - Dancer, Professor, Percussionist, Choreographer
José Alfredo Carrión, born in Santiago de Cuba, began his career as a professional dancer when he was invited to join the Ballet Folklórico Cutumba in 1980 at the age of 17. After only 3 years of hard work, José was recognized as a “primer bailarín.” The following year, in 1984, after an evaluation by a national panel of Cuba’s most distinguished specialists in music and dance, José was honored with the title of professor and specialist in Cuban dance. In 1999, after almost 20 years of being a soloist for the dance troupe, José became Cutumba’s principal dancer.

Over the years, multi-talented José has also contributed to Cutumba as a choreographer, percussionist and researcher. José’s choreographies include Guiro para Elegguá, Baile Campesino, Son Tradicional and Fin de Fiesta, which are currently performed together as Fiesta Cubana. He has played percussion in a number of Cutumba productions and can be heard on several recordings including Ritmos Cubafricanos Volumes 1 and 2 which he co-produced.

As a professor, José has trained generations of dancers, many of whom still perform with Cutumba, others who continue their work as dancers abroad. Besides teaching professionals, José has a tremendous amount of experience working with children and young adults. He has taught extensively in Cuba’s school system in the primary schools, high schools and universities. José has also brought the joy of music and dance to children with special needs.

José has traveled extensively during his years with Cutumba. He has performed and given workshops in many different countries including England, Scotland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Guadeloupe & Martinique, Surinam, Canada and the US.

Invited by Chuck Davis to perform in the DanceAfrica festivals of 2002, José had the opportunity to teach in several schools and community centers in Chicago, Philadelphia and NY. In July 2004, as a guest of Groupe de Danse Mondial of Montreal, Quebec, José taught members of Philadelphia-based Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble in an intensive workshop which included an original choreography "Jugando with Elegguá." José has given master dance classes at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Center for Creative Education in Stone Ridge, NY and Columbia College Chicago. In October, 2005, he was the artist-in-residency at Williams College in Massachusetts.

After 25 years of researching, collecting, conserving, revitalizing & presenting the folkloric manifestations of Afro-Franco-Haitian-Cuban origin found primarily in Cuba's Eastern (Oriente) provinces, José has retired from Cutumba. In April 2005, he moved to Seattle where he and his wife Naomi currently co-direct the Academy of Cuban Folklore and Dance. Soon after his arrival in the US, José founded ¡Todo Folklore! This Seattle-based dance company performed at the opening ceremony of the World Rhythm Festival just a few weeks after it's formation. ¡Todo Folklore! has continued to be extremely well-received at a variety of events including the most recent Northwest Folklife Festival where many deemed the performance to be "best of festival".