The 12th Annual CubaCaribe Festival of Dance and Music ends on Saturday April 30th. This year’s festival CUBA ON MY MIND pays tribute to Cuba’s rich artistic and cultural traditions and their influence around the globe. It’s the only festival in the Bay Area devoted to folkloric and contemporary dance and music of the Afro-Caribbean and its Diaspora. It’s founder, Ramón Ramos Alayo is a Cuban-born dancer, teacher, and choreographer who was selected by the Cuban government to study dance in Santiago de Cuba at age eleven. Each year, the festival presents more than 100 artists in 12 performances plus exhibitions, master classes and lectures on the religion, history and politics of the Caribbean.
The festival occurs over three weekends. The second weekend took place at Laney College Theater in Oakland. Performances included the Afro-Cuban modern style of Alayo Dance Company and street dance theater style of Nicole Klaymoon’s Embodiment Project. Once the lights went down the beauty of the music and movement permeated the theater instantly. The dancers glided across the stage with focus and precision. In some performances there was a live band and singer. Songs included Nina Simone’s Mississippi Goddam and Shakira’s Pienso En Ti. One performance displaying the struggles of injustice and another lost love.
The dancing, singing, music and stories weren’t the only beautiful thing about the show. This is one of the most diverse shows I’ve seen in Oakland! The dancers were from all backgrounds, which in itself has its own interpretation. Life and art is about working together, we often have the same stories when it comes to the emotions related to the pressures of the everyday and love and loss. If only this commonality could open the eyes of the greedy and power hungry then the struggles forced upon people of color could be eradicated. Unfortunately, the reality of life is not a beautiful dance like CubaCaribe but it lets you know that in another lifetime it could be.
CubaCaribe is a non-profit that also provides dance classes and workshops. For more information go to: http://www.cubacaribe.org