The eastern city of Santiago de Cuba is known for the African influences in its music, religion, and peoples. On our short trip to the city this past October were had the chance to listen to a couple lectures about religion in Cuba and Santiago at Casa del Caribe, one of the premier religious research institutions on the island.
I loved my short time in Santiago. I think much of that was due to the Afro-Caribbean spirit that the city exudes, though I’m sure the mountains and ocean bay didn’t hurt either. The Afro-Cuban dances we were able to see show the mix of African, Latin American, and Caribbean influences that have come to make Cuba and specifically Santiago such a culturally rich location.
Here are a few excerpts from a Yoruba dance performance organized by Casa del Caribe. Since I can’t publish videos directly on the blog, click on each video title to go to my vimeo profile to view the dances.
Each of the solo dancers represents a different Yoruba oricha (deity) or ‘character’. After seeing this performance I also attended a folkloric dance performance in Havana and though the dances were different, the characters (identified by their color schemes) all had the same roles as their counterparts in Santiago, e.g. red/black=trickster, yellow=the oricha Oshun, etc.