theCuban Dance ImmersionWorkshop SeriesFeaturing International Instructors

Welcome to the CUBAN DANCE IMMERSION workshops series, set to take place throughout all of 2019. The last weekend of every month, a carefully chosen international Cuban dance instructor will come to Vancouver to share with us their talent and expertise. The main goals of these workshops are:

  • to enrich our knowledge of Cuban dance manifestations
  • to allow our community direct access to instructors who possess profound expertise on manifestations such as Afro-Cuban dances (for example, Rumba, Orishas, Palo Congo, Arará, Afro-Cuban-Haitian, etc), Casino, Son, and others.
  • to keep the community growing through education while attracting more people to Cuban culture
  • and finally, to continue having even more fun!

Every weekend of workshops will be complemented with a Saturday evening CUBANIZATION social dance party that the guest instructor will attend to do a performance and socialize with all of us. A formidable lineup of artists has been assembled, and we’re happy to announce that the first ones to visit Vancouver will be Kati Hernandez, Reinier Valdes & La Clave Cubana, Liethis Hechavarria and Wilfredo Guilbiac.

Jan 26/27 Kati Hernandez
Feb 23/24 La Clave Cubana
Mar 30/31 Liethis Hechavarria
Apr 27/28 Wilfredo Guilbiac


March 30th & 31st

Orishas (Oshun & Yemayá), Palo Congo & Arará

Welcome to an exciting weekend of workshops with Liethis Hechavarría who is teaching for the first time in Vancouver as part of the Cuban Dance Immersion Series. Mark your calendars for workshops on March 30th and 31st. Also, make sure you attend the Saturday night CUBANIZATION dance party (March 30th) where Liethis Hechavarría will perform.

Originally from Santiago De Cuba, Liethis (pronounced lee-eh-tis) received her early training as a dancer from her parents, world reknowned dancers Danys “La Mora” Perez Prades and Sergio Hechavarria Gallardo. She began performing at the young age of 6 years old, a member of Adiro Omode (Corazon de Niño) in Santiago de Cuba. She also attended Escuela Nacional de Danza Moderna de Santiago de Cuba. Ms. Hechavarria later moved to New York City as a teen and didn’t miss a step. Liethis continued her training with Chuck Davis at Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. She took West African, Sabar, Congolese, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban diasporic classes at Djoniba Dance and Drum Center, Alvin Ailey School and Balmir Dance Company Center. Ms. Hechavarria is now a founding company member and first dancer of Oyu Oro Afro-Cuban Experimental Dance Ensemble in New York City.


Palo traditions come from the Bantú people of Central Africa (particularly from Congo). The Bantú represent the majority of African slaves coming into Cuba during the 17th and early 18th century; later the Yoruba (from Nigeria) became the primary group brought to Cuba as slaves. Drums and hand rattles are used in this music, which is based upon communication with ancestral spirits, the dead, as opposed to the Orishas. The songs and chants, often in a hybrid combination of Spanish and Bantú words, play a central role in the rituals of Palo. Music of this tradition has had a strong influence on popular music forms like Rumba, Son and Mambo.
Arará: from the Fon people and the Arara kingdom of the Dahomean region, now known as Benin, Arara rhythms, songs and dances were introduced into eastern Cuba through Haiti, where many of those rituals and ceremonies are still practiced. Arará may also refer to the music, dance, and religion of this group of people. Arará music is characterized by particular percussive styles, including drumming, hand clapping and body percussion. Instruments include the ogan (an iron bell) which may be replaced with a guataca (hoe blade), cachimbo (smallest drum, highest pitch), mula (medium drum), and caja (largest drum, lowest pitch). The drums are single-headed and closed on the bottom, tuned with pegs. Other names for these drums are also used in some parts of Cuba, such as hungan for the caja. The lead is played with a stick and a hand, while the others are played with pairs of sticks by seated players.
Workshop details:
Location: BC Dance Studio 877 Hamilton St (downtown Vancouver)
Time: 12 noon to 3 pm
Attire: women please, bring a long skirt (and wear pants or shorts underneath)
Workshops open to both women and men


Oshun: known as Ochún or Oxúm in Latin America, and also spelled Ọṣun, is an orisha, a spirit, a deity, or a goddess that reflects one of the manifestations of God in the Ifá and Yoruba religions. She is one of the most popular and venerated orishas. Oshun is the deity of the river and fresh water, luxury and pleasure, sexuality and fertility, and beauty and love. She is connected to destiny and divination. During the life of the mortal Oshun, she served as princess consort to King Shango of Oyo. Following her posthumous deification, she was admitted to the Yoruba pantheon as an aspect of a primordial divinity of the same name. She is the patron saint of the Osun River in Nigeria, which bears her name.

Yemaya: Yoruba Orisha or Goddess of the living Ocean, considered the mother of all. She is the source of all the waters, including the rivers of western Africa, especially the River Ogun. Her name is a contraction of Yey Omo Eja, which means “Mother Whose Children are the Fish.” As all life is thought to have begun in the sea, all life is held to have begun with Yemaya. She is motherly and strongly protective, and cares deeply for all Her children, comforting them and cleansing them of sorrow. She is said to be able to cure infertility in women, and cowrie shells represent Her wealth. She does not easily lose Her temper, but when angered she can be quite destructive and violent, as the sea in a storm. Yemaya was brought to the New World with the African diaspora and She is now worshipped in many cultures besides Her original Africa.

Workshop details:
Location: BC Dance Studio 877 Hamilton St (downtown Vancouver)
Time: 12 noon to 3 pm
Attire: women please, bring a long skirt (and wear pants or shorts underneath)
Workshops open to both women and men

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