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Consider the idea of land in Palestine, and conflict may be the first thing to come to mind. But for Jumana Emil Abboud, the Palestinian landscape evokes other, older, associations – with mythological creatures like water spirits and ghouls. “These stories were told way before 1948,” says the Galilee-born artist, speaking by phone from her home in Jerusalem. She suggests looking back ..

Steven Levenson’s “If I Forget” began its Off-Broadway run a year ago, closing just six weeks before the now 33-year-old playwright won the Tony Award for writing the book of the acclaimed musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” Cut to February 2018, and South Florida already has its own exquisite production of “If I Forget,” thanks to GableStage artistic director Joseph Adler. Levenson’s fun..

In a career that continues to soar two decades after his first play was produced, Michael McKeever has premiered his dramas, comedies and short plays at theaters all over South Florida. Nearly always, he’s involved in those productions as the author, sometimes as an actor, at times as a set designer. The plays get their start here, then go on to productions (sometimes multiple product..

When M. John Richard decided to leave the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in late 2008 to become president and chief executive officer of Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, he arrived in South Florida with a vision, myriad ideas and a long-term exit strategy. “I knew in 2008 that I had a 10-year run in my tank,” says Richard, 65, who plans to retire from his Arsh..

Friendships can bring seemingly unlike people together to sometime form a strong bond. Such is the case in Walter Dean Myers’ coming of age novel, Darius & Twig. According to the summary notes of the book “Two best friends, a writer and a runner, deal with bullies, family issues, social pressures, and their quest for success coming out of Harlem.” It’s a tale of endurance, perseverance, an..

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When it comes to farces, Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off” is one of the great ones. The 1982 comedy has made it to Broadway three times, and American audiences all over the country have embraced it in countless regional productions. Actors’ Playhouse is having a go at “Noises Off” as the second show of its 30th anniversary season. The play fits like a period glove on the main stage at the..

The intricate alchemy of inspired theatrical art is on full display in Zoetic Stage’s darkly hilarious, gripping world premiere of Christopher Demos-Brown’s “Wrongful Death and Other Circus Acts.” Demos-Brown, a rising theatrical star whose play “American Son” will open on Broadway in November, has drawn on his experience as a lawyer working on wrongful death cases to create a savage exami..

My Barbarian wanted to take Miami on a boat ride. “We wanted to interact and be out in the public,” Alex Segade reveals over the phone from Los Angeles, where he just got out of rehearsal for My Barbarian’s first Miami show, coming up this Saturday at the Miami Light Project, as part of Miami-Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design’s “Living Together” performance series this season. ..

When the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater returns to town this week, Miami native son Jamar Roberts will take center stage. As one of the company’s star dancers, he has long shined as a performer. B..

He says his dance comes from his dreams. French-Algerian choreographer Hervé Koubi’s most recent work, “What the Day Owes the Night” combines Sufi rhythms with cutting edge b-boy moves, class..

A world premiere always comes with a drum roll. And, throughout the years, Miami City Ballet has brought to light its fair share of resounding new works. Still, Brian Brooks’ freshly-minted O..

Wednesday night at the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall the South Florida Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Martha Graham Dance company presented “Appalachian Spring Suite” and “The R..

Cooking may be Dan Froot’s favorite thing. This is saying a lot since Froot is also a composer, a dancer, a sax-player, a play-wright, an oral-historian -- an all-around performance artist an..

With the closing of Tigertail Productions last year, Miami lost one of its preeminent artistic champions. Under the direction of founder Mary Luft, Tigertail brought an endless parade of boundary-..

Anytime would be a good time to devote a dance program to the works of Jerome Robbins, our most versatile and celebrated American-born choreographer. But, given that 2018 marks the centennial..

Due to winter storms in the Northeast impacting travel, with great regrets the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company announced the cancellation of the Saturday, Jan. 6 performance. At age..

It is fitting at this time of the year that our thoughts often turn to what connects us not what divides us. Whether we are driven by religious or secular motives, many of us are in the spiri..

Unique Sounds From Central America From the Garifuna Collective

Photo: by Peter Rakossy
Written by: Elizabeth Hanly
Article Rating

At first their sound is reminiscent of Bob Marley. Just as plaintive but with added punch. But listen longer -- the more familiar the music feels, the harder it is to pin down.

This is the music of the Garifuna Collective, a Central American band, whose native Garifuna language and culture has been named a Masterpiece Heritage by UNESCO. This weekend they’re in town, performing on Saturday and Sunday at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium.

Desiree Diego, one of the singers in the band, calls their sound “one with Mother Africa.” It’s heavy on percussion, with tenor and bass drums as its centerpiece. Add in turtle-shells and maracas and call/response vocals. Then comes the counterpoint: electric guitars, unexpectedly underplayed, unexpectedly sweet.

As Ivan Duran, who produces the group’s recordings on his Stonetree record label puts it, “we’re looking to get all the juice from a melody.”

Still, the Collective steers clear of the temptation to make a more commercial sound. The group sees promoting authentic Garifuna culture as its raison d’etre. Many of the group’s songs have been passed down through the generations. Before the success of the Collective, many were virtually unknown outside of the Garifuna communities in Belize, Honduras and Guatemala.

Who are the Garifuna? “Our roots are in South Africa,” Desiree Diego says, “those days before the slave ships came.” When some of those boats crashed into the Caribbean coast, the survivors swam to shore. As they mixed with the Arawak Amerindians, the Garifuna people were born. When Britain governed the area, they tried to further marginalize the community, pushing them to coastal areas and islands. Paradoxically, that isolation served to keep the Garifuna culture intact.

“This is culture where music is everywhere. Music is like food in the Garifuna communities,” Duran says.

“It’s a culture that is about resilience above all else,” he continues. “You can hear it in the songs. They may be telling really sad stories -- the death of a child, or the loss of a home in a hurricane -- but the music is so full of strength that you can’t help feeling glad that you heard the story.”

When the group came together 20 years ago, nobody expected that they would tour all over Europe and the United States and be lauded internationally. To date, the Collective has released 30 albums and counting. Among that number is one featuring the Collective’s women.

“I am surprised each time I hear myself on the radio,” says Diego. “When I hear that I feel on top on the world. Young people come up to me and say ‘we want to be just like you.’ I tell them ‘well, then you have to learn our language and our music.’ Not long ago, young people were not interested like this. Now we even have a school where our language is taught. My child goes to that school.”

Diego and two other Garifuna women will be featured at this weekend’s performance.

She remembers the first time she sang publicly. “I was 13. It was in our temple. My god-mother asked me.” Diego is referring to the high-priestess of a Garifuna religion that uses song to heal the community. “Yes, our work with the Collective has gone much further than I thought it would. But I think my godmother knew.”

The Garifuna Collective, presented by FUNDarte, Jan. 27, at 8:30 p.m. and Jan. 28, at 3:00 p.m.; Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami; tickets $30 www.ticketmaster.com; 800-745-3000 and
at the Miami Dade County Auditorium Box Office, 305-547-5414; 786- 348-0789.

 

 


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