About ADA ARA
Ada Ara is a new work by Arenas Dance Compay that honors the resilience, strength, sensuality, and vibrancy of Cuban women. They are our workers, sisters, grandmothers, neighbors, politicians, artists, friends. The performance numbers move between Afro-Cuban folklore and popular (i.e. social) dances to bring together the powerful spiritual and joyful aspects of la mujer Cubana.
The opening invocation draws from Lucumí, the Cuban religion based on Yoruba traditions carried West by enslaved West Africans. A call and response between lead singer and dancers dressed in sacred white invites in the ancestors (egun), honoring legacy.
The evening continues by paying homage to female orishas (deities) and recognizing the different expressions of womanhood. Ochún, orisha of sweet waters, sensuality, and honey; Yemaya, orisha of salt water and motherhood; Oyá, the rainbow-hued warrior of winds and markets. We tell the patakín or folktale of when Ochún takes the crown the Changó (orisha of male virility), making herself queen.
The night accelerates to guaguancó, the rapid-fire Rumba typically danced between couples. The dancers create polyrhythmic patterns with brooms. They celebrate work as spiritual practice.
Arenas Dance Company is known for having women on the drum. Although a growing number of women have recently crossed gender boundaries, it is still rare to see women playing Batá drums and Rumba in both Cuba and the USA.
ABOUT THE TRADITIONS
Rumba, danced to the secular conga and clave rhythms, was born in late-1800s Havana and Matanzas from Bantú, Abakuá, and Spanish musical strains. Pedroso calls it “the attitude of the people.” In contrast, the Batá drum trio and rezos (prayers) are descendants of Yoruba traditions. Batá drums salute the egun and recount sacred narratives, evoking the spiritual presence of orishas.