Founded by Artistic Director and Choreographer “La Mora” Danys Perez, Oyu Oro is one this country’s leading exponents of Afro-Cuban dance. For this two-week event, “La Mora” has assembled a one-time-only gathering of the foremost Afro-Cuban artists in America including, 20-plus dancers, vocalists and musicians.
Palenque is an epic poem that exemplifies the company’s diverse cultural roots, bringing vivid fragments of history, ritual, tradition and folklore to the stage. The work explores an idea of the life of a Palenque and Cimarrones in Cuba, illustrating through dance and song the need for unity and freedom, and the struggle to overcome the hardships of slavery and cultural differences in order to survive. Palenque incorporates a variety of traditional dance forms that derive from Yoruba (Lucumi, Orisha), Congo (Bantu, Palo), Dahomeyan cultures of West Africa present in the Haitian influences that remain in Cuba such as Vodu, Ban Rara, Bembe de Sao, and the popular dances of Cuban heritage, including Rumba, Conga and Comparsa.
Joining “La Mora” is an extraordinary ensemble including celebrated US-based Cuban artists Susana Arenas Pedroso (dancer), Xiomara Rodriguez (dancer), Ramon “Sandy” Garcia Peréz (percussionist), Erick Barberia (dancer and vocalist), Jose Francisco Barroso (dancer, vocalist, percussionist), Reynaldo “Rey” Gonzalez Fernandez (dancer, vocalist, percussionist), Rogelio “Ñoño” Kindelan Nordet (vocalist and percussionist), Roman Diaz (percussionist), “Wichy” Luis Sandre Planas Hechavarria (dancer and percussionist). Pedro Domech (dancer), celebrated Haitian artist Nadia Dieudonné (dancer), and outstanding recording musicians, Daniel “Dadi” Beabrun (Haitian musician), Salim Washington (jazz musician), and Francisco Mora Catlett (jazz musician), among others.
Oyu Oro’s repertoire demonstrates and honors the African heritage that serves as the foundation of their work.
Oyu Oro explores traditional forms of dance that derive from the Yoruba, Congo, Carabali, Arara and Dahomeyan cultures of West Africa, as well as the rich Haitian influences that remains in Cuba such as Tumba Francesa, Vodu, Gaga, Tajona, Haitian Bembe, and the popular dances of the National Cuban heritage, including Conga, Chancletas o Cutaras and Son. The company is comprised of dancers, vocalists and musicians who are well versed in the history and the elements of this art form. Dance is one of the African cultural manifestations that experienced an abrupt transculturalization during the slave trade to the Americas. The ritual dances of African origin constitute an important part of the Afro-Cuban Folklore and are the foundation of other dance forms in Cuba that come out of the religious format.
Inside of its artistic mission in the Afro-Cuban Dances, Oyu Oro offers a panorama to the visual world in the performing arts. Through artistic projection, the ensemble shows how custom is a crucial element of the dance performance because it nurtures and honors its African-Hispanic-French-Haitian roots. Each branch feeds from and is anchored by the same root. The Cuban Culture intertwines diverse ethnical groups present in the island.
“La Mora” Danys Perez (choreographer/director) was born in Santiago de Cuba where she began dancing at the age of seven. She joined the amateur dance group Afro-Cuban Movements at age 10, paving the way to her membership in the Afro-Haitian folklore ensemble Guilermon Moncada. At age 13 she began working as a guest with the Ballet Folklórico Cutumba. She attended the Centro de Superacion Arts School where she studied Afro-Cuban folklore with international personalities such as O’Farrell, Johann Garcia, Silvina Fabar, Lazaro Ross, Juan B. Castillo and Ernesto Arminan, and modern technique with Eduardo Rivero Walker. In 1994 she was recognized as Prima Ballerina and Primera Profesora by the National Dance Commission in Cuba. A performer, teacher, dance ethnologist and choreographer, Ms. Perez has focused on the unique styles of her native region of Oriente Province in Eastern Cuba. Oriente offers a particularly rich cultural heritage due to the introduction of Afro-Haitian influences to an already vibrant Afro-Cuban context. Ms. Perez taught in Cuba for international courses to students from Holland, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Scotland and Japan, and has taught outside of Cuba since 1995 in Italy, Spain, France, and in the US. Ms. Perez is one of the best interpreters of Afro-Cuban dance. She is an international artist who offers a profound contribution not only to the dance world, but the world of cultural studies as a whole.