Dripping River Water


remembering sixteen July 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 4:57 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been told I don’t have a biological clock. That whenever my partner and I decide to have children it will never be too late. I hear of Berkeley moms having children for the first time at fifty. I hear this from the nannies I hang out with in the park. I wonder what drives someone to still want a baby at fifty when many women at fifty are grandmothers.

It is finally at thirty two that I can appreciate my body. I can stand minutes in front of the mirror admiring every curve, every hair. I am aware that when I eat wheat my belly blows up into a ball. I smooth out the top of my belly and wonder if that is what I am going to look like when I am pregnant. I’ve been growing out my hair, not to see how my hair falls on my back, not to feel the comfort of my mane. I’ve been growing out my hair because I remember watching my friend breast feed her son during story time. Her hair long falling around his face. He grasped locks and gently held unto it. Loving his mama’s hair.

The children I take care of sometimes call me Mama Maceo. I wonder what I would want my children to call me. I’ve gotten used to Mama Maceo but I don’t call my mami mama. Just mami and sometimes mimi and when I want to joke around with her, mi vieja.

I was pregnant once. A long, long time ago when I was sixteen. I knew I was pregnant the second that it happened. I knew and cried in the shower wondering what I would do. I didn’t tell him then. I don’t think I ever told him. He heard from a friend of a friend of a friend and never called. That first month I forgot that I was pregnant. I was absorbed in planning for college. I went to Dartmouth College for a Multicultural Weekend. There I ate and ate and ate. I was small and people didn’t know where I put it all away.

My period came but then I remembered. Didn’t matter if blood spotted my panties I was still pregnant. So I went to get a test done. Downtown Brooklyn. I got the place out of the phone book when we still used phone books. I think I had to wait one, two, three days. I waited. I was pregnant. But I already knew i didn’t need a test.

Mami told me if I ever got pregnant I would have to drop out of school because she wouldn’t take care of any of my babies. I went to Catholic school. All girls Catholic school. Those schools where girls wore short skirts and teased hair and had white boys in Camaros pick them up. I wasn’t like those girls but I still got pregnant.

Mami didn’t know I was pregnant until I was in my 20s. She got her cards read and the woman told her that there is this little boy that hangs out with me. She asked me if I was ever pregnant and I told her the whole story. The first time we were totally honest with each other.

I used to take long showers and sit and talk to my belly. I talked to it not knowing what to do. I decided to have an abortion but I never made an appt. I didn’t really want to have an abortion I just wanted to talk to my belly for days. I don’t know how it was gonna happen unless I made an appt. My mind and heart talked in silence.

I was never any good in religion class. I was the one that asked too many questions. I was the one that stopped saying her prayers because I was just instructed to memorize them, not believe in them. I was the one that had to be excused to go to the bathroom. I was bleeding, mounds and mounds. In the stall alone with a flicker of light I absorbed the blood coming out of me with toilet paper. Never telling anyone what happened. I went to the nurse’s office and got a big pad. I waited it out until the last class bell rang.

That day I forgot I had a miscarriage. Trying to pull it through. My body not able to move as quickly but I had my Intro to Philosophy college class to attend at John Jay. I walked to the subway station and I saw him in his Black Trans Am. We just looked at each other. He drove off. I should have known that there was nothing but no good when dating a Puerto Rican named Elvis whose street name was Coma. Damn.

When I was told I didn’t have a biological clock I was told that my first child would want to leave. That he would peep into this world and say, nah, this isn’t for me and be out. And I said, that already happened. It happened when I was sixteen. When I am with teenage children I think of him. I think of him and wonder what it would have been like.

I wrote him a letter once. Asking him to forgive me. And I felt him for the first time in a long time. He wiped my tears and touched my hair. And told me it was ok. He knew it wouldn’t be good for the both us. He made the decision for us. I told him that even if he is a spirit he would always be my first. I love him.

I’ve always enjoyed children wanting to have them for my own and not wanting to have them for my own. I was never sure if I would be a good mother. My family used to wonder why someone with a Masters degree would decide to be a nanny. I’ve always told them it is part of my training. My work ends in August with the children I have been caring for the past two years. They have taught me so much. My heart has healed with them knowing that one day I can be a good mother. I would be different from what I would have been at sixteen. All these years that I have worked on myself has not only been for me it has also been for the future children that I will have, God willing. I am thankful that my story doesn’t end with having a miscarriage at sixteen. I am thankful that it just doesn’t end. It is being written, it is being spoken, it is being heard.

the end.

Here’s a clip of my cuties


A cleansing July 21, 2008

You can say I saw it coming. More like I felt it. The week of the car accident I kept on getting messages. I needed to be protected. I didn’t get a clear picture like cars rushing by, mine swerving. I didn’t hear the tires screech or the air bag bursting. I just kept on hearing, call your spiritual teacher and ask him to teach you prayers of protection. I don’t know any except for the words, God, please protect me.

I’ve been asked if I do rituals in my home. Yes. I’ve been asked if I see clearly in people what they don’t want to see. Yes. I’ve been told that they teach me these things. My ancestors. I’ve been told that I come from a strong line of diviners and healers. I am the first born in a city. I sing songs in languages I don’t know. I somehow know what each word means.

I sacrificed a rooster once. Picked him up in Chinatown in San Francisco. Talked to him the whole ride home in the car. He clucked. He must of been uncomfortable in the paper bag they put him in. I brought a big box. More room but this was not freedom. I put him in my bathroom and he was quiet. I talked to him and told him he was making a big sacrifice. Not just for me but for the world.

I got to my spiritual teacher’s house rooster and Eleggua in hand. We sat at the table and talked and I cried about the rooster. I have killed. Roaches, mosquitos and ants. Those seem more acceptable. I eat chicken. Sometimes forgetting that the meat comes from what was once a breathing being. It seems easier to eat something that has been killed by other hands or perhaps a machine. My teacher told me there are alternatives to sacrifice. He showed me the palm oil. I have. He told me about the crushed black eyed peas. I didn’t know. He told me that cats go there sometimes wanting to sacrifice a rooster every week. We’re not killers, he says. I am the first born in a city. First from a line of country people.

It was hot outside. Cuba hot minus the humidity. The sun beat down. Sweat lined our faces. He sang, knife in hand, asked me to hold the rooster’s head. I did. Bent down and cried the whole time. Blood dripping from his neck. He didn’t fight. He already knew his purpose. The sacrifice accepted. I took the rooster home. Boiled him in a big pot and plucked his feathers. Small kitchen in Oakland smelling of freshly killed chicken. I was the first born in a city. Not just any city, New York City. There are palm trees outside my window. Not royal palms like in Cuba. Tall ones that I am not sure what their name is. This is what happens when you are forced to move from place to place, from continent to island to continent: your offsprings born in cities brought up on MickeyD’s and White Castle feel that plucking a rooster for the first time is familiar.

I’ve was told I am going to move. Not once but three times. Three different people. For the first I said, I just moved. A big move. Brooklyn to Oakland. I was told I will move again. I’ve been told I need to live in a house. A house? I can’t afford a house. I was told I should at least try to rent one. I need more room. My living room is full of altares. My boveda for my ancestors and spirits. One for Yemaya with the print of her given to me when I was a baby, the doll as well. A shelf for Obatala. A shelf for everything else. One altar for Oshun. My lover says he likes how they are all color coded. Never saying that it is idolatry. Once just calling them statues. I correct him and say altars. Except for my boveda, sometimes it just feels like I created art installations in my home. He prays in my living room. I stay in the kitchen or bedroom, quiet. I pray as well. Not like him but still, words kept inside. Sometimes I let him interrupt me. He doesn’t know. Probably thinks my eyes are just closed.

He’s never seen or heard how I really pray. He’s never been here on a Friday evening when I clean the house. Prepare a pail of water. Pluck white flower petals. Pray. Pour florida water, cascarilla. He’s never seen me pour it on me. Hasn’t seen how the light shines in the bathtub. How the petals fall unto my shoulders, nipples, tummy and feet. He has not seen me dressed all in white, head covered. Doesn’t hear me play my favorite song of his, three times. I sing to be called while changing the water. He doesn’t see me light candles, burn incense, pour coffee, spit out rum. He doesn’t see me smoke a cigar and dance.

My mami doesn’t want me to have so many altares in the living room. She says my closet is big enough that they should go in there. I have nothing to hide. We were forced to hide for hundreds of years. No curtains, no doors in my house. it has to be out there in the open. Then why have I never asked him to come on a Friday night?

I came into this world knowing and not knowing. A sad looking baby in pictures. I had already seen too much. It’s been three years that I have lived in Oakland. Three years on the week of fullest moon of the year. Rebirth, renewal they say. Everything coming to full circle.

My brother tells me that my car accident was a big cleansing. I knew it was coming but I didn’t know it would be like that. I knew just before the accident. I knew the day before. I had a bad feeling inside and I thought it was just because I was on my period. A woman bumped me the day before the big accident. Just a small tap. I knew she would do it. She didn’t stop in time. In my head I knew that the next one would be bigger. I went to Marin the night before the big one. I really didn’t feel like it but I wanted to see him. I wanted to eat food with him, sleep next to him. Feel his breath. Next morning we woke up early for a hike. We walked to the beach. It was foggy. Before we got to it there was a lagoon. Oshun. A small black bird with red. Eleggua. The ocean. Fierce. Yemaya. We went all the way to the left. Nestled underneath huge rocks. I sang softly to Yemaya. Instantly. He went to the next rock. I stood there enclosed by thousands of years of rock formation, tears dropping. I cry when I feel closest to God. I cry by the ocean. I am home. I have wanted to go with him to the ocean for a long time. Wanted to look out and see the vastness with him. My love as deep and vast as the ocean I once wrote.

A vulture flew ahead of us. By the trail. We saw it on our way out. A vulture. He has never seen one. Big, black, majestic. I told him a pataki about Oshun. I told him how beautiful I thought they were. How I was surprised I was when I noticed their beauty at a beach in Baja California. I learned vultures were also Oshun. Both peacock and vulture. The pretty, the ugly. The complex. 

In the early days of the world, and of Ilé Ifé the orishas became tired of serving Olodumare. They began to resist the Lord of Heaven’s edicts and to even plot the overthrow of Olodumare’s kingdom in heaven and earth. They felt they didn’t need Olodumare and that as the Lord of Heaven was so distant anyway, they could merely divide the aché or powers among themselves and that things would go much better that way.

When Olodumare caught wind of this attitude and their plots, the Lord of Heaven acted simply and decisively: Olodumare simply withheld the rain from the earth. Soon the world was encompassed by a staggering draught, the ground became parched and cracked, the plants withered and died without water. And it wasn’t long before all on earth, orishas and their chidren alike began to starve.

After a short time, growling bellies and sallow faces began to speak louder than their pride and rebelliousness. They unanimously decided to go to Olodumare and beg for forgiveness in hopes that this would bring rain back to the world. But they had a problem: none of them could reach the distant home of Olodumare. They sent all the birds one by one to attempt the journey but each and every one of them failed, tiring long before reaching the palace of the Lord of Heaven. It began to appear that all hope was lost.

Then one day, the peacock, who was in reality Oshún herself, came to offer her services to save the world from this draught. Once again there was general upheaval and laughter as the orishas contemplated the idea of this vain and pampered bird undertaking such a journey. “You might break a nail”, said one. But the little peacock persisted and as they had nothing to lose, they agreed to let her try.

So the little peacock flew off towards the sun and the palace of Olodumare. She soon tired of the journey, but she kept flying ever higher, determined to reach the Lord of Heaven and to save the world. Going yet higher, her feathers began to become scraggly and black from the withering heat of the sun, and all the feathers were burned from her head, but she kept flying. Finally, through sheer will and determination she arrived at the gates of Olodumare’s palace.

When Olodumare came upon her she was a pathetic sight, she had lost much of her feathers and the ones that remained were black and scraggly. Her once beautiful form was hunchbacked and her head was bald and covered with burns from flying so close to the sun. The Lord of Heaven took pity on her and brought her to the Palace where she was fed and given water, and her wounds were treated. He asked her why she had made such a perilous journey. She explained the state on earth and went on to tell Olodumare that she had come at risk of her own life so that her children (humanity) might live.

When Olodumare looked to the world and to Oshún’s plaintive look, it was obvious that everything she had said was true. The Lord of Heaven then turned to the peacock who was now what we call a vulture, saying that her children would be spared from this draught and ordered the rain to begin again. Then Olodumare looked deeply into Oshún’s eyes and into her heart, then announced that for all eternity she would be the Messenger of the House of Olodumare and that all would have to respect her as such. From that day forward in this path she became known as Ikolé, the messenger of the House of Olodumare. Ikolé also is the name for the vulture in Lucumí. And from that day the path of Oshún known as Ibú Ikolé was revered and became associated with her bird, the vulture.

The vulture then returned to earth, bringing with her the rain, where she met with great rejoicing. As befits a queen or Iyalodde, she graciously refrained from reminding them of their jibes and abuses as she could see the shame on their faces.


I am a child of both Yemaya and Oshun. Sometimes I feel one stronger than the other. I worry sometimes about being too much like Oshun. Although she is beautiful, although she is loved, although she gives messages from God sometimes she feels alone. Alone after many lovers, alone after giving so much. I am up on a hill and I fight with my spirits. I tell them I want flesh and bones but when I have flesh and bones in front of me, when I can feel it, breathe it I am not sure what to do. I chanted last night in a room full of people. I didn’t think to sit with my friends. I sat in the middle of two strangers and I saw myself dancing in big skirts. I saw myself in white in the jungle. I saw myself dancing with him.

The car accident was a cleansing my brother says. I was on 580 in the fast lane. I hate the fast lane. I hate it after the MacArthur exit. I hate the curve. I tried not to be on it but I couldn’t move. Cars moved too fast. I was moving too fast. I saw the divider indented. Car accident awhile back. I looked at it as I drove. I slowed down, too fast. I looked at my rearview mirror car behind me. I looked at the side mirror I even looked back. I was clear to merge, no more fast lane. Two exits away and there she was. Merged from the right. Silver car, white lady, glasses, in her fifties. We both looked at each other. I didn’t want us to hit I tried to go back to my lane. I swerved. I tried to control it. I swerved. It was too fast. I swerved, and swerved and swerved until I spun and spun. This is it. I am going over. This is it, we finally got to go to the ocean. This is it. I crashed, I crashed. My air bag is pink. I was alive. Bismalah ar Rahman ar Rahim. I was alive. Maybe I should have said Alhumdililah. But who knows what to say when you thought two seconds before that you were going to die. I got out of the car and I cried. I was only bruised. My car was totaled. I swerved and spun and crashed but it was only me. I thought that they were telling me not to be with him. That they didn’t want me to be with him. That a car accident was my warning. I was coming from his house. Of course I would think this. Of course this was a sign.

Up on the hill I was alone. In shock. My friends not thinking to call me. Just texts. I hate the impersonalness of technology. I alone up on the hill I didn’t want to talk to my spirits. I didn’t want them in my house. I snickered passing my boveda. I am what you call malcriada. Forgetting that I was protected because I was still alive, only bruised, heart broken but alive. He doesn’t like to talk on the phone. I have learned this watching him ignore calls and then hearing messages days later. I have learned how to communicate with him even if it’s not how I would like to communicate. I have learned that when I can’t see him face to face and I have to let it all out I can do this over IM. I hate the impersonalness of technology. My friends are surprised when I tell them I am still shy around him. They are surprised when I tell them I can’t look him in the eyes when I tell him I love him. That it took me almost a year to say it. Mami kept on asking me if he called and I said, no. He hasn’t checked his messages, mami said having more hope then me. I even asked my best friend to call him. Mami asked me to send him a message through the computer but I was too hurt to do that. I finally did at 1 in the morning. Wrote him quick details of the accident. He calls at 8am right after he reads it full of I’m sorrys. I didn’t check my messages since you left the house, he said. He comes over that night in between this and that. Rushing, fitting it all in. I have to ask him to hold my hand. We lay in bed watching two separate computer screens. He’s at work mine is on Richard Pryor. Before he leaves I have to ask him to hold me. He touched the small of my back the part that was most in pain. His finger pressed on my spine. It heals.

The day after the accident I called my spiritual teacher. Cried to him that I could have prevented it. I could have called him and told him that I needed extra protection. You got distracted, he said. He comforted me the way I needed my papi to comfort me. My family thousands of miles away doesn’t know what it is like for me to live alone up on a hill. My teacher asked when it happened. He calculated it all in his head. Relavations over the phone. Yep, if you would have called I would have explained to you what was happening. It was a bad week for me, he said. You were right on time. Don’t take it personally. It has nothing to do with you. I sighed knowing then it wasn’t a sign.

No sign but signal. Lights flashing. Green, yellow, red. But I like it more in reverse. It’s been red for too long. My heart red, only beating because it has to. Needs some yellow shimmering like gold until it is ready for green like leaves giving me breathe. My brother says this accident was a cleansing. A cleansing. I am the first one born in a city. A cleansing. No more bruises. Heart pieced back together. I can look over to my boveda now. I know what they tell me.

the end.


Amor Cubano: In a bottle, a tube and a small packet Tour! July 5, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 10:08 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mi gente,
I hope all is beautiful with you. We have been working on the Amor Cubano: In a bottle, a tube and a small packet tour for the fall, 2008 and the spring, 2009. Please pass along any contacts you may have at colleges and universities. We are specifically looking for more opportunities in the Midwest and Northeast and open to other regions as well. I especially need contacts in Miami since my family doesn’t count on this one.
We will be out in NYC for the month of October! Here’s more info on the show and some clips.

Thanks! Lots of love and light to you.

con mucho amor cubano,
Maceo Cabrera Estévez

AMOR CUBANO: In a bottle, a tube and a small packet.

Written and performed by Maceo Cabrera Estévez

Directed by Eric Avilés

With live and video performances by: Elliot “Toby” Borrero, Christy Beavers, Oscar Trujillo, Randall Babtkis, Carolyn Cooke, Mekael Johnson, Micaela Diaz-Sanchez, Rosa Gonzalez, Brendon DeMay, Cynthia Renta, Leilani Nisperos, Leydisvel Freire Peña, Salam Hassan, Amos Glick, Eric Avilés and Gonzalo Cabrera.

Amor Cubano: In a bottle, a tube and a small packet, a multimedia theater performance, takes you into the world of Barbarita Perales- creator of Amor Cubano, the only product that puts the essence of all that’s Cuban in a bottle, a tube and a small packet and sells it on an infomercial. Amor Cubano is so powerful it can make Berkeley people have bed-breaking sex, stop cops from shutting down the immigrant rights rally and make your Castro-hating Cuban mom wise up. But can it bring Barbarita’s son home from Iraq? Is it powerful enough to end the war and stop Homeland Security from deporting Barbarita? Amor Cubano: in a bottle, a tube and a small packet, a hilarious mediation on what it means to be Cuban, and a prayer to end war in our time.

Amor Cubano: In a bottle, a tube and a small packet


In November, 2007 the full length production of Amor Cubano: In a bottle, a tube and a small packet was part of the Hecho en Califas Festival at La Peña Cultural Center was also performed in the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco, CA. Amor Cubano: In a bottle, a tube and a small packet took the Bay Area by storm by showing that not only Amor Cubano can make your arthritis go away and beat the effects of Viagra it also caused thousands of US soldiers to drop their arms ending the war in Iraq.

Maceo Cabrera Estévez in her writing and performance shows not only the complexities of being Cuban but also the complexities of living in the United States. She intertwines consumerism, capitalism, spirituality love, laughter, tears and Caribbean sense of humor to entertain her audience but all give the message that love always wins. Amor Cubano: In a bottle, a tube and a small packet was Eric Aviles’ directorial debut. He pushed Maceo not only to play Barbarita Perales but also Emma Goldberg, an older Jewish communist who knew about Amor Cubano before it was packaged, Lt. Caridad Lourdes Rodriguez, a former US soldier who gives testimony on the crimes in the war and her reasons for dropping her arms and Bob Buchannan a Texan supporter of Barbarita who wants to use her status to build CheMarts in Cuba. Eric Avilés also worked in the development the testimonies and news briefings on the effects of Amor Cubano with actors such as Rosa Gonzalez of HeadRush and people of the artist and activist community who wanted to be part of Amor Cubano.

Commemorating the five years anniversary on the war in Iraq, Amor Cubano: In a bottle, a tube and a small packet had its first weekend run at La Peña Cultural Center, March 27-29, 2008. Amor Cubano: In a bottle, a tube and a small packet plans to tour till November, 2008 across the United States. This play has live and video subtitles in English and Spanish with a little bit of Arabic.

Watch excerpts of the play:

For more info: http://www.amorcubano.org or http://www.myspace.com/amorcubano

Contact: info@amorcubano.org


Mi amor July 4, 2008

Filed under: love — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 5:36 pm
Tags: , , ,

Tambor-like heartbeats
you bring me closer to God
I whisper in sleep

copyright 2007 Maceo Cabrera Estévez


The complexities: believing in Barack Obama July 2, 2008

Filed under: Barack Obama,Cuba,democrats,love,religion,Uncategorized,writing — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 9:10 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I was at a barbecue a few weeks ago and my friend was complimented on her lip gloss. She said somethings like, yeah its my new Mac lip gloss and I’m pissed coz I just found out that they support Israel. And I stated, and so does Barack Obama and we’re still voting for him. There were head nods.

This is where the complexities lie. When you understand that you will never agree with everything an individual does or believes in.

I believe in Barack Obama, in his work, in his message, in what will come. As any individual, he is not perfect, he is not a savior, he is a person with goodness and faults. So, when I read the NY Times article, Muslim Voters detect a Snub from Obama. I couldn’t help but feel slighted and upset. I couldn’t help but take it to heart and the caregiver that I am, I wanted to reach out to Barack Obama and tell him, hey, this is what you need to do.

I went to Miami in February to visit my family. The talks shifted from Fidel to Barack and Hilary. I was proud of my family for supporting him. On my way there I picked up his book, Dreams of My Father, and was delved into his world in Hawaii, Indonesia, college and Chicago. I was interested in how he spoke about Islam. I was thankful when he spoke so openly about his family and religion. I understood him not being Muslim but his openness that Islam is part of his lineage. He went to both Catholic and Islamic schools in Indonesia and had the same apprehension to both. I laughed reading these passages because it sounded like me in Catholic school. Reading his book I found it so energizing that here was a man that spent some time growing up overseas. He had a direct relationship with immigration and having family in some other place. Here was a man that could be our president that had at least a basic understanding to another religion besides Christianity. I was proud of him for keeping his name.

Then I read in the NY Times article that he hasn’t visited a mosque yet but has gone to countless churches and synagogues. I am not sure what presidential candidate has gone into a mosque to speak so this is not surprising. BUT we are also talking about Barack Obama who sends out a message of hope and change. And even though he wasn’t raised Muslim and even though he is Christian he still has a relationship to Islam because his family does and I don’t care if they are in Kenya.

All over the internet there are lies spread by the right wing about Barack Obama’s life. And I wonder what is the best way to fight. The campaign talks about being open but when you keep on saying that Barack Obama isn’t Muslim, Barack Obama isn’t Muslim, Barack Obama isn’t Muslim, has never been Muslim and is Christian, it sounds like there’s something wrong with being Muslim. I think about, who made these decisions? Who decided to come up with these tactics? If the campaign is about change then this needs to change.

It reminds me of one of my first trips to Cuba. When you couldn’t say anything wrong about Fidel. When you did people would say oh, he doesn’t know about the problems. It’s the people who work with him that are the problem not Fidel. I am not comparing Obama to Fidel but I do bring it up because I don’t want to fall into the trap of not questioning or critiquing a leader because he is so great in some areas.

I want Barack Obama to be my president because I think that he can help shift the course that this country’s leadership has been on. He can not do it alone. I know that he must battle the personal and the political everyday. That he must fight for his integrity and to always make the right decisions. I know it ain’t easy. and I am invested in Barack Obama and how I am invested in other people in my life I must say, Barack, man, listen, you know who you are. You know what campaign you want to lead, you know who you are dealing with. There are more of us then there are of them. Remember that. They may have more money and they may have awful tactics but you got heart and blessings. Hope, change, unity means everyone. I pray that you hear me.

the end.


Project Cimarrona in July! July 1, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 1:20 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


June 20, 2008


(SAN FRANCISCO) – Friday, June 20, 2008 – The 2nd Bi- Annual Project Cimarrona, beginning on Saturday, June 21, 2008, will include inspirational performances, educational workshops including Afro-Puerto Rican music and dance, a series of improvisational sessions (Bombazos), and a culminating performance by Afro-Puerto Rican women bomba players at Laney College on Saturday, July 19, 2008. Artists and performers from the Bay Area, Puerto Rico and the diaspora – including visiting artists of Project Cimarrona, Las Bomberas de la Bahia, and other special guests – will join together to explore the depths of art-making through Afro-Puerto Rican bomba. .

Project Cimarrona will feature master bomba classes, providing opportunities to grow the knowledge of bomba dance, traditional song, new song writing and composition, and percussion in various regional styles. Master dance classes with Oxil Febles, director of Grupo Nandi (Puerto Rico’s first Women’s Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba Ensemble), will focus on advanced improvisation techniques and partner-style bomba dance. Master song writing and composition classes with Norka Nadal, of the famous bomba family from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and the director of Grupo Bambula from New York City, will teach techniques geared toward both beginner and advanced musicians. This year’s project is funded by The Alliance for California Traditional Arts, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, and private donors.

The 3rd Annual Project Cimarrona is proud to present performances and original works by:
• Avotcja • Norka Nadal
• Las Bomberas de la Bahia • Oxil Febles
• Nosotras • Amarilys Rios-Rosa
• Afro-Puerto Rican master teachers • Priscilla Renta
• Awilda Sterling-Duprey • Jade Power
• Un Camino por El Rio


Cimarronaje Fundraiser and House Bombazo
When: Saturday, June 21 – 8 p.m.
Where: 673 31st Street, #A (between Martin Luther King and West Streets)
Oakland, CA 94609
Who: Open to the General Public
Cost: $10 suggested donations
– more –
Project Cimarrona page 2


Bomba Dance Workshops with Oxil Febles
When: Tuesday, June 26 – 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, June 29 – 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday, July 1 – 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Thursday, July 3 – 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, July 20 – 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. (with Norka Nadal)
Where: Destiny Arts Center
1000 42nd Street (entrance on the 43rd street side)
Oakland, CA 94608
Who: All levels, all genders
Cost: $15 in advance, $18 at door

Song Composition and Percussion Workshops with Norka Nadal
When: Sunday, July 6 – 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Tuesday, July 8 – 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Thursday, July 10 – 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, July 13 – 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, July 20 – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Destiny Arts Center
1000 42nd Street (entrance on the 43rd street side)
Oakland, CA 94608
Who: All levels, all genders
Cost: $15 in advance, $18 at door

Culminating Performance: “Cimarronaje: A Neo-folkloric Journey Celebrating the Lives of Revolutionary Puerto Rican Women”
A special, collaborative performance from Afro-Puerto Rican women bomba players of Puerto Rico and the Diaspora, including visiting artists of Project Cimarrona, Las Bomberas de la Bahia, and other special guests.
When: Saturday, July 19 – 8 p.m.
Where: Laney College
900 Fallon Street
Oakland, CA 94607
Who: Open to the General Public
Cost: $18 in advance, $20 at door (door sales are cash only)

Community Dialogue and Bombazo
Deconstructing Tradition, Modernity, and Femininity in Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba
When: Sunday, July 20 – 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: La Pena Cultural Center: http://www.lapena.org
3105 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705
Who: Open to the General Public
Cost: $5 (no one turned away for lack of funds)

– more –
Project Cimarrona page 3

Who are the Cimarrones (n. SEE*ma*ron*es)?
The Cimarrones are the self-liberated African slaves in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.

What are Cimaronaje (n. SEE*ma*ron*ah*je)?
Cimaronaje refers to the acts of rebellion by the Cimarrones.

What is bomba?
Bomba is a centuries old, treasured song and dance tradition from Puerto Rico that uses a call and response musical form. It emerged from the communities of enslaved Africans and their descendants. During these times, bomba served as a tool for community healing and empowerment that ultimately served to combat the slave system. To this day, it continues to be an important tool for resistance.

Awilda Sterling-Duprey

Since the late ’70’s, Awilda Sterling-Duprey has been creating experimental dance works, performed and taught throughout NYC, Europe, Latin America, Puerto Rico and other Caribbean countries. Ms. Sterling is an important influence in Puerto Rico’s traditional cultural arts scene as she is recognized for her unique experimental vision utilizing various traditional cultural arts genres including Afro-Puerto Rican bomba and the vast complex of Afro-Cuban dance folkloric and secular dance. She has actively taught her particular understanding of Caribbean contemporary aesthetics by means of an inter-disciplinary approach, where the importance of the conscious integration of movement and the body became relevant to the overall theatrical experience. As choreographer and dancer, she has collaborated with outstanding figures of Puerto Rico’s literary, dance and theater communities. Most recently, she was features in NYC’s Bombplenazo event working in collaboration with Tito Matos and Plena Libre. In addition, she is an accomplished visual artist who has created several installations at BAAD!/Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance for other dance performances in Puerto Rico. Ms. Sterling has received the following awards: NEA (individual artists), PSBA (Institute of Puerto Rican Culture Artist Fellowships), FPA Puerto Rico Community Foundation), and a 2003 Community Award from the Clemente Soto Velez Center in downtown Manhattan.

Oxil Febles

Oxil Febles born in El Barrio, New York currently living in Puerto Rico. Is an educator, Bomba and Plena dancer, instructor and choreographer whose expertise and innovations in Bomba dancing have placed her among the top performers in Puerto Rico and the Diaspora. She is the founder of Cokids of Puerto Rico Children’s Workshop, which promotes African cultural heritage through educational and recreational activities in the public school system of Puerto Rico in after school programs. She is the director of NANDI, Puerto Rico’s first all women Bomba group. Throughout her career, she has worked with Taller Tamboricua, Restauracíon Cultural, Centro de Investigaciones Culturales Raices Eternas (CICRE), Plenibom, Son del Batey, William Cepeda and his Afrorican Jazz, Meet the Composer , William Cepeda, Workshop for the Department of Education of Puerto Rico, Tite Curet Alonso, Tato Torres and Yerbabuena, School of the Arts of Carolina, P.R., Legado de Nuestra Herencía Africana, Workshop for Social Studies teachers of Department of Education of Puerto Rico, Raíces Bco. Popular Christmas Special, Instituto de Cultura puertorriqueña, Conservatorio de Música de P.R. Oxil received her training from the Cepeda Family in Puerto Rico and since has shared the stage with many artists presenting the traditional and contemporary interpretations of the genre.

Norka Nadal

Norka Nadal, AKA “La Flaka” born in Mayagüez, PR currently living in New York City is a Bomba and Plena musician, dancer and ensemble director whose talents place her among the top young Bomba and Plena masters in New York City. Currently, Norka is one of the lead vocalists for Tato Torres and Yerbabuena, she is an active member of Grupo Yagüembe from Mayagüez, PR and she has recently founded her own NYC-based Bomba group called Bambula. She has also collaborated with William Cepeda’s Grupo AfroBoricua, Los Pleneros De La 21, Alma Moyo and Capa Prieto.Her instruction began in a household where music was the main ingredient for everything. As the granddaughter of Dona Catin, being part of the Nadal family meant following a family tradition that could be traced back to times of slavery where Bomba was played for every occasion. Norka believes that passing on the Bomba traditions, specifically those of Mayagüez, is extremely important and she works towards this through her Mayagüez-style Bomba dance and drum classes and Women’s Bomba jam sessions hosted in the Bronx, NY. She is also a health professional.

Melanie Maldonado

Melanie Maldonado conducts independent research on various topics of Puerto Rican culture including murals in Chicago and Philadelphia, Puerto Ricans in Hawai’i, and urban musical forms including bomba, plena, and freestyle. She is currently in pursuit of a PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University where she is working on a dissertation about the contemporary practice of Bomba in Puerto Rico and the U.S. based diaspora. Some of her research projects related to Bomba include the contribution of women, the costume for women, and constructions of gender. She has been active in Chicago’s Bomba community for almost seven years during which time she has learned about Bomba under the direction of (and performed with the groups of) Tito Rodríguez of AfriCaribe and Ángel Fuentes and Rubén Gerena of Nuestro Tambó. In Puerto Rico, Melanie has gleaned from colleagues Marien Torres Lopez and Jorge Emmanualli Nater and has collaborated in performance with Nandi — Puerto Rico’s first all women’s Bomba group. As founder of the Puerto Rican Organization for the Performing Arts, she sponsors the biennial Bomba Research conference in Chicago.

Priscilla Renta

Priscilla Renta is a performer, writer and scholar. She is working toward a Ph.D. in Performance Studies at Northwestern University and holds a Masters degree in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University. Her work focuses on Afro-Latino/a performance genres including salsa and bomba. In bomba she has had vast experience in different areas of the United States, including Chicago’s Africaribe, directed by Tito Rodriguez. Her most recent experience has been with Taller Tambuye, led by Marien Torres, in Puerto Rico, and the all-female music and dance ensemble known as Nandí, headed by Oxil Febles. As a dance historian and ethnographer, Priscilla Renta’s work has been published in the Centro Journal of Puerto Rican Studies and the anthology Technofuturos: Critical Interventions in Latina/o Studies. She has also published several articles in AHA! Hispanic Arts News, a publication of the Association of Hispanic Arts, where she served as associate editor. She has taught dance history and technique at Northwestern University in Chicago and at universities, public schools and non-profit organizations in New York.

Amarilys Rios-Rosa

Amarilys Rios, born and currently living in Puerto Rico, is a young Bomba musician and dancer with training as a subidora (the lead drum player who marks the movements of the dancer), a role rarely occupied by women. She currently is the subidora for the Puerto Rico-based all female group NANDI and formerly was a member of the group “Los Relampagos de La Plena”. At the young age of 3, she bagan her training in piano and the flute and by the age of 8 she was enrolled in the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico. In her adulthood, she became interested in Bomba where she developed as a dancer en la escuela Dona Caridad Brenes de Cepeda as a student of Margarita “Tata” Cepeda. Later, she became extremely interested in learning percussion and received musical training from Jerry Ferrao, current musical director of the Puerto Rico-based Bomba group Bambulae.