songs of lament, resistance & joy

creole choir of cuba, womadelaide, sounds of the planet 2011

Creole Choir of Cuba

Creole Choir of Cuba

A HIGHLIGHT OF WOMADELAIDE 2011 IS BOUND TO BE THE CREOLE CHOIR OF CUBA—EFFUSIVE, DYNAMIC AND COMMITTED TO SUSTAINING THE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF CAMAGÜEY IN CENTRAL CUBA. THE CHOIR OF FIVE WOMEN AND FIVE MEN FORMED IN 1994 WITH AN AIM “TO RE-FORGE THE RESISTANCE SONGS AND LAMENTS OF THEIR FOREBEARS, TO CELEBRATE THE HISTORY OF THEIR HAITIAN DESCENDENTS ENSLAVED TO THE CARIBBEAN FROM WEST AFRICA” (WWW.CREOLECHOIR.COM).

The choir’s Cuban name, Desandann, means “descendants,” and the title of their recent album Tande-la means “listen.” What you’ll hear are songs of resistance and lament about the choir’s forebears working as slaves in sugar and coffee plantations and the subsequent grim legacies of colonialism. Listening to the album or watching a video of the choir in performance however conveys anything but overwhelming grief or naked anger; rather there’s a sense of the joy of survival, of cultural continuity and hope. As well there’s the potency of the music’s diverse elements—Spanish, voodoo, gospel, Creole—and its distinctive percussion-driven choral synthesis.

WOMADelaide 2011 has a strong performative streak, with bands and performance groups offering a heightened theatricality —the Ukraine’s DakhaBrakha, French hip-hopper Féfé, China’s Hanggai (“born from the Chinese punk scene…remains true to its Mongolian roots”), the brilliantly adorned Papua New Guinean Huri Duna Dancers and Brazil’s psychedelic Os Mutantes (bearer of the 1960s Tropicália heritage). France’s Le Phun will guide small groups to installations featuring “peculiar half-human and half-plant beings from the vegetable kingdom” and, also from France, Compagnie Ekart’s large-scale puppets will roam the festival crowds.

WOMADelaide’s continuing engagement with contemporary dance is realised this year by Adelaide’s Leigh Warren + Dancers who will perform a new work, Breathe, “exploring the sacred nature of suspended breath, forged around the ageless, spectral sound of the didgeridoo.” Composer William Barton will perform his work on the instrument for Frances Rings’ choreography. The dancers will be Lizzie Vilmanis, Albert David, Bec Jones, Lisa Griffiths, Adam Synnott, Lewis Rankin and guest Indigenous artists in what promises to be another visual and aural WOMADelaide 2011 highlight. RT

WOMADelaide, Sounds of the Planet 2011, Botanic Park, Adelaide, March 11-14, www.womadelaide.com.au

RealTime issue #101 Feb-March 2011 pg. 49

© RealTime ; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 February 2011
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