The Bomba y Plena Workshop
The Bomba y Plena Workshop provides resources for the study of the music, performance, and cultural interconnections of Bomba y Plena Puertorriqueña in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Workshops are held in Berkeley and San Francisco, and are led by a community of accomplished teacher-performers, including Héctor Lugo, Shefali Shah, Román Ito Carrillo, and Anna Dorman.
Bomba is a traditional form of Puerto Rican music and dance. The central feature of all bomba dancing is its improvisational character. The dancer calls, with her or his moves, for specific accents and figures, piquetes, that the drummer has to execute on the drum. This occurs in the form of a friendly yet fiery competition where each dancer and drummer showcases their skills.
Musically, bomba features the use of the drum and other percussion instruments in combination with an African derived call and response vocal style. In The Bomba y Plena Workshop we study four of the major styles of bomba, the sicá, the yubá, the cuembé, and the holandé.
Here is a collection of Bomba coros.
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Workshops are open to people with all skill levels. Beginners will find a supportive community in which to explore the music and dance of Puerto Rico's Bomba and Plena. More advanced participants develop skills in expression through sound and movement. In the discovery of the music we learn about the cultures that have blended and built the rich folkloric tradition that is bomba puertorriqueña.
Héctor Lugo leads percussion workshops, teaching the cuá, maraca and drum patterns as well as teaching the songs. New students begin by learning the basics and add their voices to the coro. As students develop they can choose a song and lead the group. Héctor has long experience as performer and teacher and also presents the historical and cultural contexts of the music.
Shefali Shah leads the dance workshops, teaching basic steps, techniques, and modeling piquetes, or improvised movements, which students interpret into their own unique way of expression. Beginners learn the basic steps of each musical form. As dancers progress, they begin to throw piquetes which the lead drummer must interpret and respond to. This conversation allows the movement to be come music, literally.
Shefali has been studying and dancing Bomba for over five years. She currently dances with Son Borikua and Cacique y Kongo. She has performed at "Maestros de Bomba en la Bahía" with members of the Cepeda family (2005) and at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival with Grupo Folclórico Paulé (2004).
Shefali also trains in Odissi, a classical Indian dance form from the state of Orissa, India, with Bay Area Master Guru Sri Vishnu Tattva Das. She performs with the Bay Area group Odissi Vilas.
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