Free family concert at Space Place Theatre

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012
cuban dancers on stage wearing bright colors
photo by Kirk Murray

The University of Iowa Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble will perform at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, in the Space Place Theatre of North Hall on the UI campus.

This will be part of the Arts Share/Community Foundation of Johnson County Concert Series. The performance is supported in part by the Community Foundation of Johnson County. These are family-friendly concerts that are free and open to the public.

The ensemble is led by James Dreier from the UI School of Music, Paul Cunliffe from the UI Department of Dance and well-known folkloric dancer and Latin dance instructor Modei Akyea of the UI Office of Communications and Marketing.

In March of 2003 with support from the UI Division of Performing Arts, International Programs, and the Department of Dance, Cunliffe and Dreier organized a study abroad trip for UI dance and music students. The group traveled to Matanzas, Cuba to study Afro-Cuban folkloric dance, drumming and songs with the world renowned folkloric ensembles Los Munequitos and Afrocuba de Matanzas. On returning, the UI Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble was formed by Cunliffe, Dreier, and former UI Department of Dance visiting professor Daniel Stark.

Through the UI outreach program Arts Share, the UI Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble has performed concerts and lecture/demonstrations on campus and in public schools and colleges throughout Iowa. Each fall semester the ensemble can be seen at Space Place Theatre.

The ensemble studies the folkloric music and dance traditions of Cuba, which have greatly influenced the music of North America and other parts of the world. This semester the pieces that will be performed by the ensemble are “Elegua,” “Yemaya,” “Chango,” “Rumba Guaguanco,” “Palo,” and “Iyesa.”

Arts Share continues the UI’s long tradition of sharing creative resources from the Division of Performing Arts (music, dance, theatre), the School of Art and Art History, and the Writers' Workshop. Its goal is to strengthen the arts in underserved areas, reaching out to provide access to life-enriching arts experiences throughout Iowa. Arts Share is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It also receives support from the UI Graduate College.

The School of Music, the Department of Dance, and the Division of Performing Arts are all part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.