Cuba Antes, Ahora/ Cuba Then, Now
The Music Center presented Cuba Antes, Ahora a three-day celebration of Cuban culture
Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles is a beautiful, vibrant outdoor gathering place for the entire community. The park just reached a major milestone, fifth anniversary. Officials from The Music Center decided to celebrate the occasion in Grand style.
Published on LatinoLA: December 6, 2017
The Music Center's Cuba: Antes, Ahora: Then, Now is part of the Pacific Standard Time www.pacificstandardtime.org click on events tab for a list of events held in conjunction with some of the current exhibits. This wonderful event is part of the stellar line-up of Winter programming that spotlight the cultures and celebrations observed by many in Greater Los Angeles.
The timing of Cuba: Antes, Ahora: Then, Now, couldn't have happened at a better time. Grand Park is magically alive with the festive, park-inspired holiday décor with a 35- and 55- foot trees that are receiving lots of exposure on social media platforms with park visitors selfies.
The Music Center's Cuba: Antes, Ahora/ Cuba: Then, Now was held December 1, 2017; 12:00pm-1:30pm; December 2, 2017; 1:00pm-5:00pm. This awesome program was part of The Music Center's three day celebration of Cuba that brought more than 48 Cuban artists to Los Angeles to engage with their U. S. neighbors (people to people) through dance and percussion workshops.
I was fortunate enough to be in attendance for the Rumba Dance Party and Jam Session, Saturday, December 2nd, from 1-5:00pm. This day featured a free Rumba dance performance in grand Cuban style featuring master percussionist Lazaro Galarraza and his son, Afimaye on vocals. Additional members of the group consisted of Bobby Whilmore, percussions, Miguelito Leon, percussions, and Gary Craigwell, vocals and percussions. Their spirit filled set opened with "Elegua" followed by "Ogun." Kati Hernandez, popular dancer, dance instructor and choreographer led the crowd in dance routines highlighting the three styles of Rumba: Yambu, Guanguanco and Columbia. The crowd quickly learned the dance moves during this interactive community style celebration.
Chris Cuenza and Jannet Galdamez, Contratiempo Dance Company presented the next exciting portion of the program. They hosted students from Maya Angelou High School and Ramon Cortines High School as the students showcased their flawless dance moves in front of a large receptive audience. The highlight/surprise for the crowd was joining Chris and Jannet, students from both high schools for a fun interactive dance lesson of basic salsa dance steps, Mambo con Shimmy, Salsa Rueda, Rumba, Crossover and Chevere (freestyle/anything goes).
Today's program was fluid, flowed smoothly from one event to the next. The crowd and I returned to the Main stage for another spectacular dance performance with Kati Hernandez and two of her beautiful dancers, accompanied by master percussionist Lazaro Galarraga, and the percussionists mentioned above.
The final portion of the program featured Dayren Santamaria (pictured) and Made in Cuba, L. A. based Afro-Cuban band made up of a diverse group of professional musicians. The band consisted of Oscar Hernandez, on keyboards a leader in his own right, from Puerto Rico, Carlitos del Puerto, bass, from Cuba, Alfred Ortiz, congas from Mexico and Ramses Rodriguez on drums from Cuba. The group performed "Dayren's Nostalgia," "Lamento Latino," "Matanzas" and Cubana and Tampena." The band also featured celebrated Cuban artists legendary Pancho Amat, master musician of the tres guitar, Telmary Diaz, inventive rapper, musician and spoken word artist and Yissy Garcia, percussion and San Miguel on tres guitar. Each guest artist were featured front in center to showcased their tremendous talents and joined in on the all out jam section to conclude Mahvelous celebration of Cuban culture here in Greater Los Angeles.
Please keep your dance shoes handy as you make plans for New Years Eve Celebration. Grand Park + The Music Center's N.Y.E.L.A. Scheduled Sunday, December 31, 2017, 8PM- January 1, 2018; 1:00am.
For the fifth year, Grand Park + The Music Center's N.Y.E.L.A. will be the go-to-central gathering place in Los Angeles where Angelenos from all over the county and visitors from across the globe ring in the New Year. This unique civic event, which has been recognized alongside major New Year's Eve celebrations around the world, brings Angelenos and their family and friend together to celebrate the holiday at LA's biggest dance party. Grand Park's N.Y.E.L.A. will focus on music and dancing both onstage, on the dance floor, and throughout the rest of the event.
The event will include free interactive motion-graphic activations for audiences to bring to life with their own moves, and a unique only-in-Los Angeles New Year's countdown, featuring 3-D digital video mapping on the side of the iconic City Hall with and integrated light show celebrating the wonderful energy of this New Year's celebration. Additional information will be forthcoming https://nyela.grandparkla.org
Ricky Ricardo is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer