Dancing the diaspora
PREVIEW The CubaCaribe Festival, now in its fourth incarnation, is a three-week celebration of the African diaspora, as manifested in this country, Brazil, Cuba, and Haiti. (Conceivably, as we continue to learn how widespread and diverse African influences are, the festival might well grow to include dance and music from Peru.) Like many other culturally based dance forms, these diverse African influences of the diaspora grow from pockets that develop around specific newcomers to the fertile Bay Area, who bring the seeds of knowledge with them. Observe this year's festival performers: Tânia Santiago was born in the Bahia region of Brazil; two members of Nsamina Kongo come from the Republic of Congo; and Luis Napoles, Ramón Ramos Alayo, and Danis "La Mora" Pérez Prades hail from Cuba. Others, such as Portsha Jefferson and Michelle Martin, are American, but their affinities have led them to the sources of their art; Jefferson has lived and worked in Haiti, and Martin in Nigeria, Cuba, and Haiti. Of particular interest is guest artist Pérez Prades's New Yorkbased Oyu Oro ensemble and CubaCaribe founder Ramos and his Alayo Dance Company. An excellent dancer with Robert Moses's Kin, among others, Ramos brings a personal, decidedly contemporary perspective to his choreography. Last year's Three Threes was a thoughtfully built homage to Cuba's modern dance pioneer Narciso Medina and a smart, excellently danced roundup of Cuban social dance.
CUBACARIBE FESTIVAL Fri/18Sat/19, April 2426, and May 13, 8 p.m.; April 20 and May 4, 2, and 7 p.m. Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., SF. $18$22. (415) 273-4633, www.cubacaribe.org , www.brownpapertickets.com