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Susana Arenas Pedroso and Duniya Dance and Drum Company are collaborating to create a dance and music performance about the cultural and political relationship between Guinea, West Africa and Cuba.

Although the slave trade in Cuba generally links to Nigeria, Benin, and other African countries, Guineans also were enslaved and taken to Cuba. Guinea’s first president after French Colonization was Sekou Touré, a socialist labor leader whose  government philosophies aligned with those of Cuba’s Fidel Castro, and Cuba helped to rebuild Guinea – creating infrastructure, building schools, and forming Guinea’s military. This exchange spilled over to the arts with influences and touring exchanges taking place in music and dance. This project will explore the influence of Guinean musicians and dancers on Cuban forms and the influence of Cuban popular music and social dances in Guinea, and it will look at the role of the arts in forging political connections and alliances.

Susana Pedroso is an internationally recognized Cuban folkloric and popular dancer. Born and raised in Havana, Cuba in a family of musicians and santeros, she began her career at age 12; danced professionally for 17 years in Cuba with popular, folkloric, and theatrical groups; and relocated to the United States in 1998. Since then, she has performed and choreographed numerous pieces. Duniya Dance and Drum Company performs and teaches dance and music from South Asia and Guinea, West Africa. It is led by artistic director Joti Singh, the daughter of immigrants from India, and Music Director Bongo Sidibe, who immigrated to the United States from Guinea in 2008.

Due to COVID-19, the collaborators are conducting research through June 2021 and then will present work-in-progress showings, rehearsals, and collaborative exchanges. The work’s premiere is planned for October 2023.

Photo of Susana Arenas Pedroso by Brooke Anderson