Jorge Arce & Humano

Puerto Rico and Afro-Caribbean Culture

6 Dennison St., Boston, MA 02119
787-364-0198  787-296-2587

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"Weaving Horizons: knowing, embracing and respecting other cultures in our Caribbean, our continent and in our world. This is the mission and the message of Afro-Caribbean Workshop which highlights the importance of this presentation at this crucial moment in our history."

"La misión y mensaje de Afro-Caribeño de Entrelazando Horizontes a través del conocimiento y respeto hacia otras culturas que conforman nuestro caribe, nuestro continente y nuestro mundo, cobra especial vigencia en estos momentos históricos."


Program Descriptions Biography Profile and Resume
Afro-Caribbean Workshop Curriculum Guide Press Kit PDF & Photographs
Puerto Rico Cultural Heritage Tours Music MP3 and Video Files
African Retentions In Puerto Rico Thesis Tour Calendar
Salsa Dance Lessons

Dance Throughout Times:
Afro-Caribbean connection of four Islands:
Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Haiti and Cuba.
Master Afro-Caribbean Dance Workshops by Jorge Santiago Arce

Background Notes:
When slavery was established in the Americas during the sixteenth century, the slave owners never suspected how much the practice would influence the cultural life this area.  The many numbers of tribes brought from the African coasts joined the already subjugated Native Americans and adopted portions of their culture.  At the same time, they reinterpreted and adopted a great portion of their masters' culture.  In the Caribbean region the process of integration in which the African element became predominant was the wellspring of what is now called Afro-Caribbean culture.

Workshop Purpose:
The purpose of this workshop is to show the Afro-Caribbean dances as a cultural expression that explores the similarities detected among the different African cultural groups placed in the Caribbean. African slaves were segregated by the masters to work with other different linguistic ethnicity  African slaves, so they would not be able to communicate and plan rebellions.  This process resulted in the diversity of rhythmic and dance patterns which at the same time show similarities in their African origin.

For example, one of the foundations of the Afro-Caribbean dances is the movement of the African twist.  In United States, this dance was known in the 1920s as balling the jack and later on as race.   You can find the source of its movements in such Afro-Caribbean dances as the Puerto Rican bomba, the Dominican merengue, the Haitian compa or meringue, the Virgin Islands calypso or souk, the Brazilian samba. Additionally the twist movement is found in las rumbas, la conga, and el changüí from Cuba that the modern salsa is derived from.

Click on image to see short movie of master dance class at Purdue University Black Cultural Center

Workshop Description:
In these classes we will examine, learn and experience dances from the four Islands of the Caribbean and their music forms: “Bomba & Plena” from Puerto Rico, “Merengue” from Dominican Republic, “Compa” from Haiti and “Songo” from Cuba.  Within this process we will investigate the connections, similarities, differences and diversity of these dances.  This class is a fun proposal against the "melting pot" theory. All master dance workshops are two hours each and include specific choreographies, live drumming plus recorded music and videos.

  • Bomba Dance from Puerto Rico
  • Plena Dance from Puerto Rico
  • Comparison Workshop I:  Cuban Songo and Puerto Rican Bomba dances
  • Comparison Workshop II:  Puerto Rican Plena and Dominican Republic Merengue dances
  • Comparison Workshop III: Haitian Compa and Dominican Republic Merengue dances
  • Comparison Workshop IV: Trinindad Calypso, Haitian Compa, Dominican Republic Merengue and Cuban Conga dances
  • Dance Through Times Residence includes all above with choreographies, live drumming and percussion, recorded music, Arno Peters Map of the World plus Final Class Presentation with costumes during 5 day workshop 2 hours each

Ilustration:  Jorge Arce © 1996.

  • Alvarado, Felix Echevarria. La Plena. Puerto Rico:  Alvarado, 1984.
  • Alvarez Nazario, Manuel. El Elemento Afronegroide en el Espanol en Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rico:  ICP, 1974.
  • Arce, Jorge.   Africa in the Caribbean: Common Language. Article in Process of Publication
  • Arce, Jorge.  AFRO-CARIBEÑO: CONNECTIONS IN THE  CARIBBEAN", Bomba q Rumba, Memories of the 1rst Symposium about the Bomba and the Rumba, pgs.278-291, Puertorican Publications, San Juan, 2012. Puerto Rican Foundation for the Humanities, National Endowments for the Humanities and PACA.
  • Arce, Jorge.  Bomba and Plena: African Retention in Puerto Rico. in Music  of the Caribbean. ,  ed. Dr. Beverly Anderson (New York:  MacGraw-Hill,  1996.  pp. 65 – 72 IBN: 0070069891
  • Baralt, Guillermo.  Esclavos Rebeldes. Puerto Rico:  (ed.) Huracán, 1985.
  • Buffalo, Michael.  Interview to Frank Quimy  in  The Georgia Sea Island Singers - Preserving Coastal Music Tradition. Atlanta : Swampland Music, Apr 1st, 2006.
  • Carpentier, Alejo.   La Musica en Cuba. Mexico:  EFE, 1980.
  • Gaztambide Géigel, Antonio.   La invención del Caribe a partir de 1898 (las definiciones del Caribe como problema histórico, geopolítico y metodológico), Revista Mexicana del Caribe (Chetumal, Quintana, Roo, México) I, 1, 1996.; San Juan:  Manual de Estudios Centro de Estudios Avanzados y del Caribe, 2005(a).
  • López Valdés, Rafael.   “Notas sobre el Informe de la Comisión Imperial china acercal del tráfico de culíes a Cuba”(Notes related to the report of the Chinese Imperial Commission about the traffic of coolies to Cuba).  Revista de la Bilioteca José Martí,  Habana, Cuba: Año 68, 3era época – vol XIX, no. 2, Mayo-Agosto, 1977.
  • --------------------------.  Africanos de Cuba. 1era ed. 2002, 2nda rmp., San Juan: Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe, 2004.
  • Mazrui, Ali A.  The African, a Triple Heritage, Canada: Little Brown & Company, 1986.
  • Katz, William Loren.   Black Indians, a Hidden  Heritage.  New York: Atheneum, 1986.
  • Orovio, Helio.  Cuban Music Dictionary. Cuba:  (ed.) Cuba:  Editoial de las Letras Cubana, 1981.
  • Ortiz, Fernando.  La Musica Afro-Cubana (The Afro-Cuban Music). Madrid:  Ediciones Jucar, 1974.
  • --------------------------.   Los Instrumentos de la Musica Afro-Cubana (Instruments of The Afro-Cuban Music). Madrid:  Ministerio de Educación de Cuba, Cuba, Música Mundana, dist. e imp., España, 1996.
  • Piñeiro De Riveia, Flor.  ARTHTUR ALFONSO SCHOMBURG:  A PUERTORICAN QUEST FOR HIS BLACK HERITAGE.  San Juan:  Centto de Estudios Avanzados del Puerto y el Caribe, 1989.
  • Silverstein, Judy L.  20 Anniversary of the Mariel Boatlift, MSO en  THE COAST RESERVIST, Tampa:  April/ May, 2000.
  • Smith,  Michael P.   A Joyful Noise: A Celebration of New Orleans Music .  Intro. And Interv. By Alan Govenar.  Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Company, 1990.
  • Stearns, Marshall and Jean.   Jazz Dance.  New York:  MacMillan, 1966.
  • Sertima, Ivan Van.  The African Presence in America: They Came Before Columbus.  New York: Random House, 1976.
  • Sued Badillo, Jalil y Angel López Cantos.  Puerto Rico Negro (Black Puerto Rico).  1era ed. Rio Piedras, P.R.: Editorial Cultural, 1986.
  • Urfé, Odilio.     “La Música y la Danza en Cuba” en Africa en América Laitna (The Music and the Dance in Cuba” in Africa in Latin America). Ed. Manuel Moreno Fraginals. 3era ed. México: Siglo XXI, editores,  S.A. de CV y UNESCO, 1996
  • Zenón, Isabelo.     Narciso Descubre su Trasero:  El Negro en la Cultura Puertorriqueña. (Narcissus Discovers his Rear: Black People in the Puerto Rican Culture)     Humacao: Editorial Furidi, II, 1975

  • Almodóvar, Ramón. (1980). Documentary Film for TV:  "La Historia del Negro en Puerto Rico." (History of the Black People in Puerto Rico) For the Colegio Metropolitano of Puerto Rico, Copyright Fundación Ana G. Mendez. Note:  Jorge Arce was  presenter and narrator in this special broadcast
  • Rosow, Eugene and Howard Dratcj, Production and Direction. Roots of Rhythm .  Los Angeles: Cultural and Research Communication.
  • Borcherding, Eric, Production and Direction.  (1986). Don Rafael Cepeda: Patriarca de la Bomba y la Plena (Don Rafael Cepeda: Patriarch of the Bomba and Plena).  Puerto Rico: ICP (Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña).

Interviews, Notes  and Recordings:
  • Alvarez,  Luis Manuel, Dr. Renown musicologist, composer y puertorrican muician.  Proffesor at the Music Departament of the University of Puerto Rico.
  • Ayala Family - Renown group of Bomba Dance and Music from the town of Loíza, Puerto Rico.
  • Cepeda Family - Renown group of Bomba and Plena from Villa Palmeras neighborhood in Santurce, Puerto Rico. (Don Rafael Cepeda is considered the Patriarch de our Bomba.  Exalted as National Folklorist by the Smithsonian Institute. Institutoe de Cultura Puertorriqueña Medal, 2001)
  • Franceschi Family - One of the many families of the Bomba and Plena from the working neighborhood San Anton, Puerto Rico. (Luisa Franceschi is Jorge Arce’s aunt)
  • Gaztambide,  Antonio - Puerto y el Caribe en el Siglo XX Course dictated in the Center of Advanced Studies of Puerto Rico and the  Caribbean, Puerto Rico, 2005.
  • Leon, Argelier - Interview of this important composer and musicologist Habana, Cuba, 1980
  • López Valdés, Rafael - Ethnic-history of the Caribbean:  The formative process of towns and countries, with special reference to the Greater Antilles. Course y conferences dictated at the Center of Advanced Studies of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, 2006
  • Pedraza, Ramón - Ethnologist; investigator, musician and instruments’ artisan; specialist in the Plena and the Bomba genres.  His shop is established in Villa Palmeras, Puerto Rico. Don Rafael Cepeda, ICP, Puerto Rico Medal, 2003.

©Jorge Arce & Humano Multicultural Project. 0383-0371810.
Prohibited the partial or total reproduction without authorization.

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