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Susana Arenas Pedroso (San Leandro) collaborating with the Oñi Ochun Cultural Center (Oakland)

Grant: $35,000 Traditional Arts Grant awarded in 2003

Presented: 2004 at ODC/Theater, San Francisco

Based on the patakin, or parable, tradition of the Yoruba/Lukumi religion, Patakin brought Afro-Cuban storytelling to life through dance, music, and spoken word. Dancer and choreographer Susana Arenas Pedroso collaborated with bata drummer Michael Spiro, writer Joyce Thompson, director Tania Llambelis, and the Oñi Ochun Cultural Center to create a work based on eight patakines.

Patakines tell the stories of the Orishas, gods and goddesses of the Lukumi tradition. Their telling is grounded in a ritualized practice of divination and this project sought to combine a traditional, ritual-based art form with Western theater. Three of the key artists are initiated priests of the Lukumi tradition and the collaborators involved the Bay Area Lukumi community to ensure the stories were handled and interpreted appropriately.

Susana Arenas Pedroso grew up in Cuba, moving to the United States in 1998, and quickly establishing herself as a leading teacher and performer of Caribbean dance. Oñi Ochun Cultural Center was established in 1994 to preserve Afro-Caribbean culture and religion through education, documentation of past and present events and practices; and through promotion of the creative expressions of people descended from Africa and the Caribbean.