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Even before the election that transformed billionaire reality TV star Donald J. Trump into the 45th president of the United States, playwright Robert Schenkkan was so disturbed by the candidate’s anti-immigrant rhetoric that he decided to respond. Not with a Tweet. Not with an opinion-page essay. The Pulitzer Prize winner spoke back to candidate Trump with a full-length play. “Building..

“Baño de Luna,” written and directed by Pulitzer-prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz and presented by Arca Images and the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, marks the debut of the Spanish-language version of “Bathing in Moonlight,” the original English production that debuted at the prestigious McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., in 2016. Performed by a stellar cast in Spanish..

Rafael Nofal’s play “El tiempo de la mandarinas” (“Season for Tangerines”) tackles the very relevant and disturbing theme of human trafficking. Produced by Antiheroes Project, this moving play is in its last week at Artefactus Teatro, a well-purposed black box and gallery space in a smattering of warehouses in Kendall. Nofal’s text removes overt violence and male characters fr..

Joshua Harmon’s savagely funny “Bad Jews” is an emotional cage match set in a pricey Manhattan studio apartment. The combatants are Daphna Feygenbaum (Hannah Benitez), a soon-to-be Vassar grad who plans to move to Israel, marry a man no one in the family has met and become a rabbi, and her cousin Liam Haber (Joseph Paul Pino), a master’s degree candidate and atheist who intends to..

The play begins, as it must, with the velvet voice of Nat King Cole crooning “Mona Lisa.” After all, how many paintings inspire an Oscar-winning song? For that matter, how many masterpieces survive damage, theft and the rapacious covetousness of collectors for more than half a millennium? Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Gioconda,” popularly known as the Mona Lisa, is that inspi..

A casual conversation with a fellow theater artist prompted José Manuel Dominguez, founder and artistic director of Antiheroes Project, to produce the company’s latest piece, “El tiempo de las mandarinas,” (“Season for Tangerines”) by Argentine playwright Rafael Nofal. “I am drawn to themes of memory, dreams, and paradise lost, but for a long time I’ve wanted to do a play based on reality,” sa..

The 32nd International Hispanic Theatre Festival kicks off on Thursday, July 6 with the Mexican company Los Tristes Tigres’ irreverent spin on Shakespeare, “Algo de un tal Shakespeare” (“Something by One Shakespeare”). Founder and director Mario Ernesto Sánchez, the festival’s engine that could and still can, identifies this raucous play as part of the festival’s larger goal of attracting..

Nowadays, it’s tough not to feel worried, paranoid or in need of some escapist relief from the steady flow of oh-no-he-didn’t news out of Washington. Miami playwright Theo Reyna feels your pain. His response is “Firemen Are Rarely Necessary,” a jet-black satire now getting its Mad Cat Theatre Company world premiere at Miami Theater Center’s Sand Box. The play takes intricately aim..

Pearl Cleage’s play “Flyin’ West,” an M Ensemble production currently on stage at the beautiful new performing arts center in Liberty City, the Sandrell Rivers Theatre, is set in humble Nicodemus, Kansas, the only remaining western town established by African Americans during the reconstruction period following the Civil War. Set in 1898, the play focuses on the lives of Sophie (Brandiss ..

Esteban, (http://estebanlapelicula.com/en/) the debut of Cuban director Jonal Cosculluela being premiered at The Miami Light Project tells the story of a 9 year old, living in Havana with his mother, who’s raising him as a single parent, and his perseverance following his dream of becoming a musician. The challenges seem overwhelming. Esteban and his mother struggle to make ends meet (htt..

Orlando Taquechel, dance critic for two decades at the El Nuevo Herald (and now a contributor to Artburst), will have a book signing and discussion of his new book, “La danza in Miami (1998-..

The name Flamenco conjures the machine-gun snap of heels, arms arched overhead, the flick of red fabric and laser-like glares from beneath the starched black brim of a Cordobes hat. At the ed..

It’s easy to believe the only excitement Miami offers in September are the dire warnings from the weather service about the approach of yet another tropical storm. However, dance lovers in M..

Watching Neri Torres rehearse is a study in focus and concentration. She demonstrates each step with an ease developed from years of immersion in the study and performance of Afro-Cuban ..

Miami-based organization Delou Africa has been the ambassador of African dance and drumming in South Florida for the last 30 years. It started as a performing company, and has since expanded..

Miami Beach’s old city hall on a Thursday evening in June made a surreal set up for anyone familiar with tango’s broody scene -- a large cozy room full of cheerful, laughing, and smiling..

When Ballet Flamenco La Rosa takes to the stage this weekend, it will present a program based on traditions which were handed down through the ages. A program filled with the mysteries of fl..

With every great new love, the beginning is a crucible of extremes – will it endure for decades or permanently scar?The program for Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami’sJuly 8show, “Fiebre: A N..

With a heightened emphasis on “Noise” as an innovative musical genre, this sixth installment of the Miami Performance Festival International (M/P’17), running June 23 to 25, challenges South..

Yissy Garcia: The Girl is a Drummer and Boy, She Can Play

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Written by: Fernando Gonzalez
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The daughter of Bernardo García, an influential drummer in Cuban music, charter member of the fabled Afro-Cuban jazz rock group Irakere and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval’s band, Yissy García was supposed to be a dancer, a ballerina. Her brother was the designated heir in the family. “They would take me to dance lessons and I’d go crying, all the way. I didn’t want to go. They would give the sticks to my brother,” recalls García, 27, with a sly smile at a lunch at Miami Light Project in Wynwood.

“Now my brother is a dancer, a choreographer, and me ….” As laughter erupted in the room, she didn’t need to finish the sentence. She is now a professional drummer, leading her own group, BandaAncha, a fascinating ensemble of Afro-Cuban jazz-funk that includes a deejay contributing an array of sounds and effects.

“Since I was in my mom’s belly I knew I was going to be a percussionist,” she says. “I would be going around the house beating my little drums and, at first, my parents thought it was just child’s play. But later they realized it was for real.”

Horacio “El Negro” Hernández, arguably the premier Cuban drummer of his generation, was at the lunch (he’s known García since she was a child and they are now planning a project together) and called her “the leading figure in modern Cuban drumming.”

García studied classic percussion since age 10 and at 15 she started playing the drum kit. She won a Special Award at Fiesta del Tambor competition (Drum Party, 2005), a Special Mention for Performance at the Festival Internacional de Jóvenes Jazzistas JOJAZZ (International Festival of Young Jazz Musicians, 2006), and was the runner up at the JOJAZZ competition in 2010.

She organized Yissy and BandAncha in 2012, and the group is completing its first album and on its first tour of the United States, coming to Miami this weekend thanks to presenters FUNDarte and Miami Light Project.

While there is a tradition of female groups in Cuban popular music, getting accepted as a female drummer in male-only groups must’ve taken some doing. How was that?

Actually, I liked the process of establishing myself in the world of professional musicians in Cuba a lot. Years ago I was much thinner, much smaller, and being a woman, many groups, especially those comprised just by men, didn’t consider me at all. I had friends who knew bands looking for drummers and when they recommended me, they were told things like ‘Yeah, but she’s a girl, I dunno.’ But that actually strengthen me. I always tell the story that in those days I kept a list of all those groups that said ‘no.’ and one by one I ended up crossing them off the list because I ended up playing with them.

How did you come up with the idea of mixing Afro-Cuban tradition, jazz, and turntables?

The idea comes from a video I saw of Herbie Hancock from a concert in 2002 with a deejay, and Terri Lyne Carrington. It really had a impact on me. When I saw that, I decided that that’s what I wanted to do. I loved to see the people at the concert dancing. That was terrific and that’s how the idea of having a deejay and using electronic sounds came about, but mixing it with our roots music: rumba, Afro-Cuban grooves.

As far as female drummers, there is by now a long list in pop and rock, but in jazz there are few notable names. Who were your influences?

When I started playing drums, which was because of the encouragement of Jorge Aragón, who is the keyboardist in my band and has been a jazz fan since he was a kid, I started listening to Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dennis Chambers, Brian Blades. It’s funny, because as we learn we often start at the end and then we go back to the beginning, but that was the style we were playing at school at the time so those were the drummers I was listening to. It was later that they organized a jazz band [at the school] and I went back and started listening to guys like Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, and Tony Williams. I’m always checking new drummers, especially the gospel drummers, then I make my own mix.

Jazz was once dance music and has sometimes suffered from being presented in very formal concert settings. You seem to want people to listen -- but also dance.

The reason I put this band, this fusion, together is because I love to see people dancing, enjoying themselves and ignoring that chip that says that jazz is not for dancing.

Yissy y BandAncha, part of the Global Cuba Fest, perform March, Friday 13 and Saturday 14 at 8:00 p.m.; at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 N.W. 26th St., Miami. $50 VIP, General Admission $10-$25; www.miamilightproject.com; 305-576-4350.

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Music writer, associate editor of the Latin GRAMMY Print & Special Projects for The Latin Recording Academy

Emmy-winner and GRAMMY®-nominated writer, critic, and editor Fernando González is the associate editor of The Latin GRAMMY Print & ..

About the Writer

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