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Percussion Workshop, Tumba Francesa, Gaga, and Vodu, 3/24, Los Angeles


Ban Rrarra on MP3!


Haiti in Cuba by Susan Hurlich

Check out Ban Rrarra home page!

Ban Rrarra

Ban Rrarra is a truly great Haitian roots group originally from Oriente and now based in Havana. They have a very strong show and are heavily into their traditions.

Seven members of Ban Rra Rra completed their first tour in the United States in September,1999. They toured California and the Mid-west and were well received by audiences and critics alike. The group is currently rehearsing and making new costumes in preparation for their upcoming tour of the US in the winter of 2001 in collaboration again with ODC Theater of San Francisco and Dimension Dance Theater of Oakland. This incredible group of dancers and musicians, originally from Guantanamo via Havana will arrive in the US in mid January, 2001 for their first ever performances outside Cuba. Many participants in Caribbean Music & Dance workshops over the last six years have been delighted by their performances and folkloric dance workshops.

BAN - Band or group of people organized with a determined outcome.
RRARRA - Costumed People; in a group characteristic of Cuban Carnival

Grupo Banrrarra was formed in 1994 by Isaias Rojas Ramirez. He is the group's choreographer, researcher and also a musician and dancer. Sr Rojas is a graduate of the Instituto Superior de Artes de Cuba. The lead dancer is Yacelis Sanchez.

In the late eighteenth century, many refugees from the Haitian Revolution settled in eastern Cuba. These refugees, both black and white, started coffee and sugar cane production in eastern Cuba. They also brought their Afro-French culture and religions to add one more ingredient to the Mulato culture of Cuba.

Sr Rojas and the entire group come from Guantanamo, the most eastern province of Cuba, and are
descendants of these Haitian refugees. His research specialty is the investigation of Vodu in Guantanamo. Ban Rrarra performs the results of his research, displaying the Cuban-Haitian traditions that are alive in eastern Cuba.

The group consists of thirteen individuals, six dancers and seven musicians, some of whom also dance. The group, while performing dances and music handed down from previous generations is also highly trained. The dancers are all graduates of the dance program of the Escuela Nacional de Arte.

Sr. Rojas formed the group in Guantanamo and moved them to Havana three years ago. Ban Rrarra rehearses four days a week, unless there is a show that day. The group has one regular gig per week, pool side at the Hotel Villa Panamericana on the outskirts of Havana. They also do workshops and shows for foreigners on occasion.




Vodú - the spiritual traditions of the Haitian refugees, who fled the Haitian Revolution at the end of the 18th century, characterized by powerful rhythms, songs and dances.

Gagá - One of Ban Rra Rra’s most expressive choreographies, competitive in nature, it is marked by exuberant, erotic dances and agile use of colorful banners, fire sticks and machetes. In the piece Dos Bandas (Two Gangs), the dancers in red challenge the dancers in blue to more difficult feats of strength and courage.

Tumba Francesa - The Franco-Haitian "society dance", where the upper class mulattos in the late 19th century would imitate the ruling class of that epoch. These formally dressed couples dance to very complex and intense drumming and Creole singing.

Tajona - A tall pole bedecked with hanging banners; dancers performing a series of interweaving steps about the pole braid the banners. Then in a flurry of jumping, twisting, diving and spinning it is unwound again.

Conga Santiaguera - Santiago’s style of Carnival dance or Comparsa, featuring the Coroneta China (Chinese Trumpet), a unique percussion ensemble and wildly costumed or masked dancers.

Chancleta - One of the most famed Carnival dances where the rhythms of the dancers feet and hands are amplified by the Chancletas (wooden sandals). The dancers challenge each other and do call and response with the sounds from their Chancletas.

Papa Guedé - a dance of the dead performed by men and characterized by erotic movements.

Rumba - (Guaguaco and Colombia) invented on the docks of Havana and Matanzas, derived from African rhythms and characterized by percussion, call and response singing and dancing.

Yoruba - the dances and rhythms of the Orishas, the spirits and saints of the Cuban religion of Santeria.


Son and Chamgüi - Guantanamo is considered to be the birthplace of the traditional Cuban sounds of Son and Changüi. These genres are the predecessors of modern Salsa. Ban Rra Rra performs and teaches all manifestations of these styles which feature the Cuban tres (a guitar like instrument) and the Marimbula.

Pregones - traditional songs sung by vendors offering merchandise to the public. These songs are partly sung and spoken using improvisation to sell their wares.


Ban Rra Rra has choreography for all the popular dance styles including Salsa, Cha Cha, Mambo, and Merengue. They also perform and teach Casino de Rueda (like Square dancing to Salsa).

Fernando Brooks Videaux
master percussionist on tour with Ban Rra Rra and instructor from the Escuela Nacional de Arte of Cuba

Learn the Cuban-Haitian rhythms from the Oriente region of Guantanamo: 

Tumba Francesa, Gaga, and Vodu

Saturday, March 17

Saturday, March 24

Noon to 3 PM

A program of Stage Of The Arts, Inc.
AfroCuban Research Institute
help at the Ramona Hall Community Center as part of the Power of Music Workshop led by Robertito Melendez


dedicated to the education & preservation of AfroCuban rhythmic traditions
4580 N. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, California

From the 5 freeway take the 110 fwy to Pasadena and exit right away on Avenue 43; go over the bridge, turn right onto Figueroa. Ramona Hall is a couple of blocks on your right.

Isaias Rojas Ramirez Workshops, 8/21 to 8/26/00

Aug. 21 Afro-Cuban-Haitian Folkloric with Isaias Rojas Ramirez, Artistic Director of the acclaimed Cuban dance company Ban Rarra 8-9:30 PM ODC Theater
3153 17th St.
San Francisco
Class Prices:

1 for $15
2 for $13 ea
3 for $12 ea
4 for $11 ea
5 for $10 ea

Aug. 22 Rueda de Casino/Popular 8-9:30 PM
Aug. 23 Afro-Cuban-Haitian Folkloric 8-9:30 PM
Aug. 24 Rueda de Casino/Popular 8-9:30 PM
Aug. 25 Afro-Cuban-Haitian Folkloric 8-9:30 PM
Aug. 26 Rueda de Casino/Popular 3-4:30 PM


Tour 2001


The following performance dates are secure.

1/ 25 & 26 Yavapai College, Prescott, Arizona

1/30/01 Bovard Auditorium, University of Southern California

2/2/01 UCSD, La Jolla, California

2/6/01 Rio Hondo College, Whittier, California

2/9/01 Ohlone College, Fremont, California

2/16/01 World Music Institute at Symphony Space in Manhattan

2/17/01 Folklife Center Of International House, Philadelphia

Probable workshops at Occidental College, UCLA World Arts & Culture, Cal Arts, Cal State LA.

In the San Francisco Bay Area; ODC Theater, Dimension Dance Theater, Rhythm & Motion,

La Peña, and Caribbean Music & Dance are planning a series of Performances & Workshops.

We are still looking for gigs to fill out the schedule.

We are also looking for help & sponsors in the following areas:

  • Lodging (16-18 people), the group needs to stay in one location this trip for logistical purposes.
  • We need a donation or reasonable rental of a large house or hotel rooms for the last week or two in January & first week or two in February in Los Angeles. The same for the San Francisco Bay Area, dates to be determined
  • Transportation: We need to rent two 15 passenger vans for 2 months.
  • Material for costumes.
  • Drums & sticks
  • Warm Clothing

Check out


August/September '99 Schedule

Ban Rra Rra is back in Southern California


Friday 8/27    The New Century Club
10131 Constellation Blvd (at Avenue of the Stars)
Century City

The show will begin promptly at 9PM

Admission is free to see Ban Rra Rra

Sunday 8/29  The African Marketplace
Rancho Cieniga Park
Rodeo & La Brea



Unity Arts Center
2332 West 4th St
(2 blocks west of Alvarado)
Los Angeles 213-382 8133

Wed 8/25 Popular Dance $15

Thurs 8/26 Folkloric Dance

7:30-9:30 Gaga & Carnival $15



Wed 9/1 & 9/2 at SOUL BEAT
1805 Main St
San Diego, Ca 92113 619 231 3146

Wed9 9/1 6:30-8PM Folkloric Dance Workshop
8-9:30PM Drum Workshop

Thur 9/2 6-7:30PM Popular Dance

Friday 9/3 8PM Performance at SUSHI

Check out for updated schedule

Ban Rrara dance workshop in Tucson, Arizona August 20 - 23. For information contact the Sovereign Arts Society, Inc. (520) 327-3663

The Sovereign Arts Society is presenting a three-day workshop in Afro-Cuban Haitian dance and percussion as well as Rueda de Casino. The workshop is in Tucson, Arizona August 20 - 22 with a concert on the Aug 21 at the Rialto Theatre. For more information call (520) 327-3663.

July Schedule, '99


The renowned Afro Cuban dance and music group, specializing in Cuba's
Oriente province's traditions, is back!


            SATURDAY         JULY 3

            Casino Rueda Class at 4:30


            1466 WESTERLY TERRACE
                LOS ANGELES

(from hollywd fwy EXIT at Silver Lake Blvd, go north 1 mile, turn left at
Berkeley, & left at Westerly)    Thomas Guide: p. 594, C-6


Thursday, July 1: PERFORMANCE
9 pm at Zabumba Restaurant, 10717 Venice Blvd., WLA 310-841-6525.
This will be an exciting view of the Oriente region's Haitian influences
and traditions including Gaga, Vodzn and La Tajona as well as of
contemporary Cuban dances from Salsa and Merengue to Chang|i and Son.

11 am -1 pm at the Unity Arts Center, 2332 W. 4th St., LA.
The Haitian influenced folkloric dances Gaga and Vodzn will be featured.
Ban Rra Rra musicians will play live for the class.

7 - 9 pm at the Unity Arts Center, 2332 W. 4th St., LA.
Recreate the lively Conga lines and Comparsas of Santiago de Cuba's famous
carnival. Cuban Rumba will also be taught.

8:30-10 pm at Zabumba Restaurant, 10717 Venice Bl, WLA 310-841-6525.
First in a 4 part series on Salsa Cuban style. Loosen up and learn the
Cuban way to express yourself. Ban Rra Rra will show the sensual moves and
footwork Habaneros are dancing today. D.j. Saoco will be spinning the
latest sounds from the island starting at 10.

Friday, July 9: PERFORMANCE    ***    8PM
At the Century Club, 10131 Constellation Blvd., Century City.

Sundays, July 11, 18 and 25: POPULAR DANCE CLASSES
Early evening at Zabumba Restaurant, 10717 Venice Bl, WLA 310-841-6525.
These classes will cover Salsa Suelta (dancing in a line), Son (dancing "on
two"), Cha Cha Cha, and Rueda de Casino. Dance party with d.j. Soco after

7 - 9 pm at the Unity Arts Center, 2332 W. 4th St., LA.
Learn the calls and moves for the Cuban craze which salseros are dancing
from Miami to San Francisco and LA. Luis will keep it fast paced and fun.
Prerequisite: you must know how to "Da me una".

Private lessons available in dance, percussion and songs $45/hr.
$25/hr. for semi-private.

More events to come, for updates call 310-305-7085 or connect to
Check out <>


Ban Rrarra Spring '99 US Tour

The folks at are planning to bring up Ban Rrarra in the spring of '99.   Contact them at for details and for updated schedule. The group has gotten their visas and so are expected soon.

Received 5/1

Ban Rrarra arrived in California on May 9th.

Plans are for them to be in the Los Angeles area for about 2 weeks for workshops & performances.  See Schedule in LA and SF. Stay tuned for details.

After May 21 they will travel to the San Francisco Bay Area. Workshops will be at Rhythm & Motion and also somewhere in the East Bay. Performances will be at La Peña on June 12 & ODC Theater June 18,19 & 20th. Other venues in the Bay Area will be Dimension Dance Theater & Alice Arts Center.

Yacelis Sanchez, the lead dancer with Ban Rra Rra will be teaching at the 4th Annual Exploration in AfroCuban Dance & Drum Jul 10-22, '99 Humboldt State University,Northern California

There are still dates open for workshops & performances. We are also exploring the possibilities of some workshops in the Mid-West and the Pacific Northwest. Please contact us at or

Later,    Mike
Check out

BAN RRA RRA SCHEDULE IN LA and San Francisco, 5/13

After many trials & tribulations 8 members of the folkloric dance group from Guantanamo, Cuba will be arriving in California this coming weekend. There is no time to set up or promote their folkloric show. They will return to Southern California later in the summer for that. What follows is a schedule of events in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

                    HAVANA STYLE CASINO RUEDA

May 13th        Zabumba           popular dance                10717 Venice Blvd
                       9PM     5$        & folklore show             Venice     310-841-6525

May 14th     The Dance Collective         Folkloric Dance Workshop
                    4327 Degnan Ave            630PM - 830PM $12
                    Liemert Park                    "1st come, 1st served"

May 15th     Zabumba    Casino-Rueda Workshop         11AM
May 16th     Moro Landis Dance Studio          Folkloric Dance Workshop
                    10960 Ventura Blvd                         1PM-2:30PM     $20
                    Studio City (cross street Vineland)   

May 16th      Ramona Hall         Folklore & Popular Dance Show
                                                7:30PM 4580 Figueroa St                Donations Accepted
                                                Highland Park                                  323-276-3021

May 17th      Terraza         Los Altos Night Club                    Casino-Rueda   Workshop
                                        4746 West Imperial @ Inglewood 7PM $20
                                        City of Hawthorne

May19th        Demo/performance
                      "Movement of a Choreographer"                 Los Angeles Theater Center
                      An exploration of African, Caribbean           514 S Spring St
                      & Latin dance performances                        Los Angeles
                      Complimentary Admission                           Reservations     310-273-1319

May20th      UCLA            Folklore Workshop     UCLA students only.

May 20th     AfroCaribe    demo/performance         Yoruba House          310-838-4843
                                                                              3264 Motor Ave
                                                                              LA(n of national bl)
May 21st     Westwood Arts                   Broxton, between Kinross& Weyburn
                    Demo/performance                 evening, time & location TBA

May 24nd     Travel to San Francisco
                     Info on Bay Area workshops & performances to follow.

Important Dates in the Bay Area        June 12th      Performance at La Peña    510-849-2572
                                                         June 18 & 19th     Performance at ODC Theater     415-626-6745
                                                         Mondays beginning May 17th Workshops at Rhythm & Motion    415-621-0643

Everyone, We are still looking for housing for about 6-8 people. In LA we were very lucky to house them all in 3 homes within 5 minutes of each other. We need to keep them close together for logistical purposes.

thanks,    mike    310-305-7085                              Check out

Ban Rrarra on

Check their page out!        Ban Rarra on

Note from Mike Cherashore:

Watch for the release of Ban Rarra's CD. You can preview the CD at

Help to keep Ban Rarra in the top ten on the latin list, listen every day.

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