Tap into one of the oldest dance and musical practices of the Caribbean, Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba, during this special series offered by one of today's most noted dancers, Julia Gutiérrez-Rivera (Los Pleneros de la 21, Redobles de Cultura, Alma Moyo and more). Bomba, a word meaning the “act of cooling down by heating up”, dates back 500 years and stems from Kongo traditions as developed in Puerto Rico. As a practice, Bomba was used as a vehicle for self-expression, emotional and spiritual catharsis and even slave rebellion. The dance form is best known for it’s improvised movements (piquetes), reinterpreted by the drummers which creates a unique musical expression in every dance cypher. Each class, featuring live drumming, will cover several regional styles, Bomba rhythms, dance techniques and group dynamics, all in a high impact and fun environment. These open level sessions are appropriate for all genders. Offered by the Redobles de Cultura team, each class honors not only the ancestral and foundational traditions of Puerto Rican Bomba, but also hints at how these traditions are interpreted through the urban and DiaspoRican lens.
Bio about Redobles de Cultura/teachers/drummers:
Redobles de Cultura (RDCNYC) is a collective of top New York City-based Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba practitioners: Julia Gutiérrez-Rivera, Nicky “Caja Dura” Laboy, Nelson Matthew González and Nina Rodriguez.
They are proud members of today's "new" and younger generation of Bomberos, cultural workers and educators. Collectively, the RDC ensemble has 50 years of teaching and performing experience, as part of several notable Bomba and Plena ensembles, including Los Pleneros de la 21, Alma Moyo, Legacy Women, Ilu Aye, Yerba Buena and more. Each member--weaned with the cultural and traditional practices of Puerto Rico and the Afro-Caribbean from a very early age--embodies the ancestral knowledge of their elders. Throughout the years, they have toured internationally to: Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Germany, Thailand, Singapore, France, Africa, the Dominican Republic and more.
Working alongside each other for more than 15 years with other groups and initiatives, the trio officially came together as RDCNYC in November 2016 to offer community engagement and presentations to audiences of all ages and backgrounds...this time through the eyes of first generation “DiaspoRicans”, who can pair the foundational knowledge of their elders with the aesthetics, styles and realities of urban and diaspora perspectives. RDC has since successfully produced a breakout tour (Fall 2017) which took them across 9 states, working in partnership with 24 host organizations, recorded 2 music tracks, and offering 26 events (workshops, classes and performances) to a direct audience of over 2,000 people.
Redobles de Cultura proudly continues the work of their parents and ancestors, as it is not only their honor but their duty to celebrate and transmit the richness of the Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Boricua expressions with communities worldwide.
Julia L Gutiérrez-Rivera was weaned as a child on Bomba & Plena as the youngest daughter of Juan Gutiérrez, the founder/director NYC’s vanguard Bomba and Plena ensemble, Los Pleneros de la 21. Surrounded by sounds of Bomba and Plena from her crib, she began receiving formal training as a part of LP21’s Bomba & Plena Children’s Workshops’ Inaugural Class. She is now regarded as one of NYC’s premiere Bomba & Plena performers, dancers and educators. Since childhood, Julia has been taught by many Bomba and Plena luminaries, and over the years, she continued to develop her art, integrating diverse regional and generational influences in her dance as a performer and teaching artist with Los Pleneros de la 21, Alma Moyo, Bámbula, and Legacy Women. She’s also shared the stage with Plena Libre, Elio Villafranca’s Jass Syncopaters, Papo Vazquez’s Pirate Troubadours and more. Teaching professionally since 2003, she’s engaged thousands of people from all walks of life and across the globe. She’s known for her fun, energetic, high impact style, which touches upon several major Bomba dance styles and techniques. As learning the dance is equally important to understanding its meaning, Julia also offers context, history and more in each class, allowing every student who participates in each session to understand not only the movement techniques but also how these relate to them and the communities we come from.
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ABOUT THE DRUMMERS:
RDC's principal drummers are: Nelson Matthew Gonzalez and Nicky "CajaDura" Laboy. Classes will feature the RDC troupe as well as guest drummers and members of the extended RDC family. This series will feature main drummers: Nelson Matthew Gonzalez aka "Mateo" and Gabo Lugo. About RDC's our main drummers:
Nelson Matthew González is considered as NYC’s top primo (the talking drum of the Bomba traditions). This young and dynamic performer, dancer and percussionist was first nurtured by his grandfather, master plenero, craft artisan and past member of the LP21 troupe, Benny Ayala. Mateo is a graduate of LP21’s Childrens Workshop and has flourished as a member of this group and throughout the broader NYC music community. He was immersed in an environment filled with Puerto Rican folk music since the very beginning, and formally began studying music at the Harbor Conservatory under the tutelage of the great musician Johnny Almendra. Since then, he has become an accomplished artist of all Latin percussion instruments and is currently endorsed by Toca Percussion. Mateo is also equally gifted as a dancer. He is a long-standing member of Dance Troupe Danza Fiesta, for whom he recently became a Board member. Mateo has performed with Aurora y Zon del Barrio, The Bobby Sanabria Orchestra, Ilu Aye, Alma Moyo, and YerbaBuena. He is the recipient of the 2010-11 Tito Puente Scholarship Fund for his commitment and dedication to preserving Puerto Rican traditional music, and has also been featured in the Young Roots Performance Series (Hostos Center for Arts and Culture); and in 2017 debuted his new Bomba and Plena ensemble, Kinto Zonó.
Nicky CajaDura Laboy
Born and raised in NYCs El Barrio/Spanish Harlem, Nicholas Laboy was born into the world of Latin music and is considered as one of today's top percussionists of the Afro-Caribbean roots and sacred genres. “Niko” or “Nicky”, , as he is known by many, grew fond of music at an early age, surrounded by the sounds of bongos, congas, timbales and more. His most influential figure, his father José Laboy, noted young Nicky’s appreciation for the instruments, and began to teach him both the technical skills and artistic discipline of a musician. Nicky’s formal instruction began soon thereafter, as a student in the noted Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts, where he learned popular Latin genres as well as a variety of traditional Caribbean genres, including Rumba, Bomba and more. Under the, tutelage of his mentors at the Harbor, Johnny Almendra and Ramón Rodríguez Nicky pursued rigorous training on congas, bongos, timbales and more. His dedication soon paid off when he became the first recipient of the coveted Tito Puente scholarship for young musicians. As an adult, he grew to into a respected drummer and artist, versed in Bomba and plena percussion, Salsa, House music, Rumba and budding master in Afro-Cuban bata- just to name a few. He was a member of the Puerto Rican roots band, Yerbabuena, and Alma Moyo, and a founding member of powerhouse Afro-Caribbean roots ensemble, Ilu Aye. Through his dedication for preserving and disseminating Roots music, he teaches percussion to emerging musicians and to community members alike, bestowing unto others the same passion that was imparted to him as a child. His talent, charisma and profuse knowledge has taken him across the world, performing with numerous groups and artists, including Los Pleneros de la 21, Frankie Morales, Lou Gorbea, Pedrito Martínez, Teatro Pregones and the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, to name a few.
Gabo Lugo was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Upon graduating from the Berklee School of Music, mastering production, engineering and percussion, Gabo moved to New York City, where he has since been performing, teaching and presenting works with the likes of Los Pleneros de la 21, Papo Vazquez, Redobles de Cultura, Pregones Theater, Carnegie Hall to name a few. IG: gabo_lugo