Afro-Cuban Dance Festival Brings Havana Rhythm to Miami
Recently, the White House took historic first steps to end travel restrictions to Cuba. But until an epic Capitol Hill battle, which will likely end in blood, tears, and airline tickets, lifts the travel ban entirely, you’ll have to settle for swaying your hips to the conga drumbeat at the 12th annual Ifé-Ilé Afro-Cuban Dance Festival. This Saturday at 8 p.m., the festival, which celebrates the African roots of Cuban music and dance, will hold its gala performance at the Byron Carlyle Theater.
There you can witness live drumming and traditional instruments as feet stomp and arms offer praise in hopes that the Orisha gods will look down upon us favorably. You can watch the melding of old rhythms and modern choreography with fusion pieces and guest performances by Afro-Peruvian and Jamaican groups.
The performance closes the 12th Annual Afro-Cuban Dance and Music Festival, a week of workshops and dance classes focused on all styles of Afro-Cuban dance ranging from Congo-style to Rumba to Salsa Rueda. Each of the pieces in the showcase is meant to represent different archetypes, such as warriors and goddesses.
“Ife-Ile means the house of love in the Yoruba language, the language spoken by the slaves that were brought to Cuba,” says Neri Torres, the company director who has toured with Gloria Estefan, acted alongside Andy Garcia, and been proclaimed a “Woman of the Year” by Glamour magazine. “Our mission is to create cross-cultural understanding with the other communities here in Miami. The performance is for everybody. You can expect dances that go from the emotional to the fun.”
And when it’s all over, you can return home without having to sheepishly hand over your Cohibas to a customs officer.