Descendants of bomba patron saint Rafael Cepeda ignite the In-Between Series with rhythm

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Bomba at the In-Between Series - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Bomba at the In-Between Series
THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
The In-Between Series: Afro-Puerto Rican Rhythms, CityArts, Nov. 18

Usually, the headliners of the excellent art music series the In-Between Series are the actual artists. The star of latest one, however, was much bigger than the individual performers. The artists included a percussion line led by accomplished local musician Dimas Sanchez and a dance group led by dance director Bárbara Liz Cepeda, but the feature was their heritage of Afro-Puerto Rican rhythm writ large.

Dimas Sanchez at the In-Between Series - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Dimas Sanchez at the In-Between Series
Dimas Sanchez at the In-Between Series - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Dimas Sanchez at the In-Between Series
Since the focus was more the art form than the practitioners, this edition had a more directly educational format than others of the In-Between Series. For crucial context, Sanchez opened with a background of the historical and cultural forces that gave rise to the Afro-Puerto Rican traditions of bomba and plena, many of which should be especially familiar to people from our corner of America.



Bomba at the In-Between Series - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Bomba at the In-Between Series
Bomba at the In-Between Series - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Bomba at the In-Between Series
These native styles, particularly bomba, involve both music and dance, which explains why there were performers from the two disciplines to represent. Each director gave a breakdown and demonstration of the basic building blocks of their respective field. Once that framework was laid, the entire cast sprang into performance.

Bomba at the In-Between Series - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Bomba at the In-Between Series
At its essence, bomba is music and dance qua dialogue. And when the players and dancers from local school Escuela de Bomba y Plena Tata Cepeda performed, it was an all-in hive of sound and kinesis.



Bomba at the In-Between Series - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Bomba at the In-Between Series
Bomba at the In-Between Series - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Bomba at the In-Between Series
Over a dozen people strong, the group moved as a swirling ensemble organism. It was a consummation of the connection between dancer and drummer that’s both communal and individually expressive. And it rumbled and popped with the brilliant pulse of culture, history and life. The In-Between Series has never been this uncorked.

Bomba at the In-Between Series - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Bomba at the In-Between Series
Bomba at the In-Between Series - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Bomba at the In-Between Series
Although the evening’s focus was resolutely on the tradition of bomba and plena, it’s very much worth noting that many of the performers in the house were direct descendants of Rafael Cepeda, the famed Puerto Rican cultural savior dubbed the “Patriarch of the Bomba and Plena” (dance director Bárbara Liz Cepeda is his great granddaughter). It’s always a thrill being in the presence of talent, but it’s a rare honor when it’s from a group with such pedigree.

Bárbara Liz Cepeda at the In-Between Series - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Bárbara Liz Cepeda at the In-Between Series
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Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com

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