Tradition, Roots, and Ancestors

Victoria Menchaca, Ordway 10/22/15

Whether or not you realize it, different songs and dance styles chronicle distinct periods in your life. In this ORDWAY EXTRA, Dr. Melisa Rivière and Kelso Riddell examine the commonalities that unite even the most dissimilar communities, while local Cuban dancer and choreographer, Rene Thompson, asks a big question: If music is the question, is dance the answer?

In this video, produced by Souleye Productions, the audience gained a bit of insight and knowledge about our local and world-renowned guest artists prior to the Creole Choir of Cuba performance at the Ordway.

Videography/Photography: Sherine Onukwuwe, Souleye Films

Speaker Bios

Dr. Melisa Rivière
Latin Hjip-Hop Producer, Scholar, & Anthropologist

Anthropologist Melisa Rivière received her doctorate degree as a MacArthur fellow from the University of Minnesota in 2010. Her research has focused on the globalization of hip-hop, civil rights, and popular youth culture movements in Cuba and Puerto Rico. She has published portions of her research in academic journals and popular culture magazines as well as received various awards for her multimedia ethnographic works. Dr. Rivière has served as academic director for SIT Study Abroad and taught as adjunct faculty at Hamline University, at present she is a lecturer in the Institute for Global Studies at the University of Minnesota.

René Thompson
Twin Cities Cuban dancer and choreographer

René Dennis Thompson has been a professional Latin dancer for 37 years, 30 of those years as an instructor and choreographer. He began his career in Cuba in 1973 with a small role as an actor in the popular theater company “4 de Abil” under the direction of Tito Junco. Many other amateur theaters and dance companies helped him develop his artistic vocation. In the early 1980s talent hunters discovered René’s versatility and soon he became a great Afro-Cuban dancer, performing with several well-known choreographers, directors, and dance companies, further developing his unique style.

Kelso Riddell
Tour manager for the Creole Choir of Cuba

The Creole Choir of Cuba is an a capella choir that celebrates the history of their Haitian descendants enslaved to the Caribbean from West Africa. Multiple award winners, this Grammy-nominated choir sings the vital music learned at home from grandparents and blends it with contemporary Cuban and Haitian sounds.

View more photos in an online gallery >

Creole Choir of Cuba

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