In alliance with the Koubek Center of Miami Dade College (MDC), the Cuban Museum will feature a very unique dance theatre performance by Cuban-born Yesenia Selier, an Orisha Dancer, September 7 – 8 at MDC’s Koubek Center under the billing: ‘The Cuban Museum presents ORISHAS.’ The featured dance artist currently teaches at the Center for African and Diaspora Dance, New York.
According to a promotional release from the Cuban Museum and MDC Koubek Center:
“The upcoming performance is inspired in the traditions of the female ORISHAS of the Yoruba people of Nigeria, the ancestors of Cuba’s Afro-descendant population. ORISHAS use dance, music and tradition to reflect on the struggles and circumstances of women today.”
This is a first time performance in Metropolitan Miami by the New York-based artist who holds a Master of Arts degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from New York University (NYU).
Yesenia tells of a past experience and how she came to evolve fully in the traditions of the ORISHAS:
“When I was sixteen years old, a theater director chose me to play the main role in a play called “Virginia and the Orishas.” A play about a young black girl asking the African gods of the Cuban-Yoruba pantheon, the Orishas, to make her white. This bitter experience motivated endless reflections about race and identity that I have developed and shared in research, educational programs and performances in Cuba and the United States for the last twenty years.”
As a result of this incident and how that alone triggered a vocation in the arts genre she has chosen, Yesnia added:
‘Through sharing my experiences and findings in this complex topic of race and identity I am determined to continue to reach people and help bring new light, new ideas and new views about who we are, where do we come from and what it means to be human beyond the narrow confines of societal norms.’
Asked what she hopes her audience will get from the three monologues which she and another character dancer will present in performance next week, Yesenia said:
“Firstly, I want to really entertain my audience, but mostly I hope that women in particular will see my performance in a new light and as a new approach to looking at themselves and their role as women in society in a similar way ORISHAS use dance, music and tradition to reflect on the struggles and circumstances of women everywhere.”
The New York-based artist is no stranger to the performing arts genre especially as it relates to the Latino culture and heritage experience, and her reputation is well documented. According to a promotional release about the artist and her premier performance at MDC:
Yesenia has been recognized for preserving Latino heritage by the “Save Latin America Organization”. Her work on Afro Cuban culture, encompassing dance, music and race identity, has been published in her native Cuba, the U.S. and Brazil. In 2011, she founded the Ibiono Cultural Association, with master percussionist Román Díaz, and presently teaches at the Center for African and Diaspora Dance in New York City.”
This performing arts event is funded by an Arts Challenge Grant from the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and a grant from the Miami-Dade County’s Department of Cultural Affairs. The Koubek Center is located at 2705 SW 3rd Street in Miami.