one branch of Afro-Cuban dance known as Bailes de Santería the dancers
interpret different Orishas. The Orishas are the deities of the religion,
specific to Cuba, known as Santería. Santería had its beginnings during the
colonization of Cuba when the slaves syncretised their Yoruban gods with
Catholic saints in order to continue practicing their faith unbeknownst to their
owners. The interpretation of the Orishas through dance and music has developed
into two branches: one is specifically religious and the other is solely
artistic. Iré Omó is focussed on presenting the latter.
The principal Orishas, or deities,
can be likened to the ancient Greek pantheon of gods in that they each have
dominion over specific elements and aspects of nature and in that there exist
many myths regarding their interaction with one another. The songs and rhythms
narrate different events in the lives of the Orishas or are hymns praising their
powers. The dances that accompany this music are pantomimic and specific steps
correspond to each rhythm. The dancers wear costumes specific to each Orisha and
carry some of the items attributed to them. Some dance movements represent the
hunt, others war or divine punishment of wrongdoers and others agricultural
is syncretised with the Virgen de Regla in Cuba. She is the goddess of universal
maternity and owner of the sea. Her attribute is the Abebe (a fan made of
peacock feathers) and her colour is blue in all its hues. In her dances Yemayá
imitates the movements of the sea; the waves that die softly in the beaches or
the violent whirlpools and waves of the stormy sea.
syncretised with Santa Barbara in Cuba. He is the god of virility, the drum,
thunder, lightning and fire. His attribute is a double-headed hatchet and his
colour is red. Shangó’s dances are either erotic or war-like. In his erotic
dances, his mime attempts to emphasize his virility by frequently gesturing
toward his pelvis while in his warrior dances he brandishes his hatchet and
pretends to spit fire.
SOBRE EL GRUPO IRÉ OMÓ
Omó Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble es un grupo de Toronto que fue creado en
el mes de Mayo del 2000, bajo la dirección general de la bailarina, profesora y
coreógrafa cubana Sarita Leyva. El grupo se dedica a cultivar bailes, música y
cantos de origen afro-cubano, tales como, Yoruba, Congo, Arará, Abakuá, Afro-Haitiano
así como otros rítmos horiundos de Cuba como la Rumba, Bailes Campesinos,
Comparsa, Pilón, Mozambique, entre otros.
integrantes del del grupo son bailarines y musicos Cubanos y Canadienses,que a
lo largo de sus trayectorias artisticas han estudiado,explorado e interpretado
todos estos ritmos asi como otros generos de la musica y la danza.
Omó Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble was founded in Toronto in May 2000,
under the direction of Cuban teacher dancer and choreographer Sarita Leyva.
The ensemble is dedicated to researching and developing the traditions of
Afro -Cuban music through the performance and teaching of dances, music and
songs of Afro-Cuban origin, such as Yoruba, Congo, Arara, Abakua, Afro Haitian
and some other indigenous rhythms of Cuba, (Rumba, Bailes Campesinos, Comparsa,
Pilon, Mozambique, etc.).
vision is to provide entertainment and education demonstrating the connections
and influences that the Afro – Cuban culture has had and continues to have on
American culture. Our mission is to preserve the integrity and authenticity of
the Afro – Cuban culture through performances, demonstrations and workshops.
roots style singing, drumming and dancing Iré Omó will introduce you to the
universe of gods, magic and African-rooted rituals.
The members of the ensemble are Cuban and Canadian musicians and dancers,
who throughout their artistic trajectories have studied, explored and
interpreted all these rythms as well as other genres of music and dance.
has performed at:
2001 Art Odyssey, Open City,
Gras Celebration, Anglican
Church of the Incarnation, Oakville
International Drum Festival,
Queen’s Park, Toronto
Livan Expo 2001, Gallery
Power of the Rhythm,
University of Toronto
About the director:
Phone: (416) 535-9125 E-mail: Ireomo@ireomo.com
Sara Leyva began her dance career at the
age of seven in Holguin, Cuba. She later moved to Havana where she completed her
formal studies and examinations in classical ballet, modern dance, and folkloric
dance and choreography at the Cuban National School of Arts (ENA).
subsequently worked as an instructor at a variety of performing arts schools and
cultural institutions, all the while maintaining an active dance career, both in
Cuba and internationally, Sarita now resides in Toronto, Canada.
Copyright © 2002 [Ire'Omo' Afro Cuban Drum and Dance ensemble]. All rights reserved.|
Revised: January 10, 2003 .
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