Ballet Folklórico Cutumba


The Ballet Folklórico Cutumba is undoubtedly one of Cuba’s most vibrant folkloric dance companies. Based in Santiago de Cuba in the Oriente province of eastern Cuba and founded in 1960, Cutumba performs Afro-Cuban-Franco-Haitian folkloric and popular dance, music and song ranging from gagá to son.

Rich vocal music peppers the repertoire, which includes the captivating Orisha dances honoring the divine beings of the Yoruba pantheon. The jubilant Haitian dances, that are now part of the cultural heritage of eastern Cuba, include the sensuous gagá and the tajona, with its precision choreography of interlacing ribbons building to a frenzied climax around the maypole. Deeply rooted in popular Cuban culture, rumba dance and music was generic to the African slaves in the western part of Cuba. Cutumba has recreated the rumba cycle according to its traditional forms - yambú, guaguancó and columbia, each with its distinctive steps and rhythms. From the world famous Santiago de Cuba Carnival celebration, the spectacular Conga Santiaguera with its blaze of color, complex polyrhythms & sensual movements, has the entire audience up on their feet & dancing.

Cutumba has been touring extensively since 1991 to venues and festivals in Europe, New Zealand, the Caribbean, South America, Canada and the U.S. They first toured in the U.S. as part of Festival Cubano in Philadelphia in 2001. In the spring and fall of 2002, Cutumba performed in the DanceAfrica festivals at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Columbia College Chicago.  In each city, the public performances were part of multi-week residencies.

Under the directorship of Idalberto Bandera Sido, this 55-person dance troupe continues to train & perform on a regular basis in Cuba. Although Cutumba's theater, Teatro Oriente, is currently under restoration, the company can be seen practicing in their new venue, Local Ballet Folklórico Cutumba (the former Galaxia) between 9:00 am - 1:00 pm on most Tuesdays through Fridays; Calle Trocha, on the corner of Santa Ursula, 53-22-655173.

Please contact Jose for booking information as well as for information on practices and performances in Santiago.

Download the Cutumba Videos  

1. Tumba Francesa - Mason1 ~ 0:39
Real Video: DSL 1127 Kb;

2. Tumba Francesa - Yubá ~ 0:41
Real Video: DSL 1191 Kb;

3. Tumba Francesa - Frenté ~ 0:51
Real Video: DSL 1474 Kb;

4. Tumba Francesa - Mason ~ 1:12
Real Video: DSL 2063 Kb;

Palo ~ 0:39
Real Video: DSL 1123 Kb;

Llamado de Tambores ~ 0:24
Real Video: DSL 681 Kb;

Tajona ~ 7:08
Real Video: DSL 12017 Kb;

Gagá ~ 0:34
Real Video: DSL 1045 Kb;

Gagá ~ 0:39
Real Video: DSL 1162 Kb;

Rumba Guaguancó ~ 2:01
Real Video: DSL 3462 Kb;

Rumba Columbia ~ 0:53
Real Video: DSL 1534 Kb;

Cutara ~ 0:20
Real Video: DSL 642 Kb;

Son ~ 1:36
Real Video: DSL 2756 Kb;

Conga Santiaguera ~ 1:09
Real Video: DSL 2006 Kb;

International Tours:

1991   Tour of Spain: Bilbao, Logroño, CUellar, Salamanco, Cataluñz, Cargos, Barcelona, Asturias, Segovia, Ponferrada, Huesca

1992   International Festival of Theater (FITEL), Porto, Portugal and 27 other cities on the Iberian Peninsula

1993   El Premio Nacional de la Mariposa

1999   Festival de Danses et Musiques du Monde, Confolens, France; Festival de Danses, Musiques et Voix du Monde, Martigues, France; Culture del Mondo a Cuneo, Italy; Tour of Germany

2001   WOMAD Festival, Reading, UK; Harrogate Festival, UK; Newcastle Opera House, UK; Edinburgh International Fringe Festival, UK; El Festival Cubano, Philadelphia, US

2002   New Zealand Festival, Wellington, New Zealand; DanceAfrica, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, US; Edinburgh International Fringe Festival, UK; El Festival Cubano, Philadelphia, US; Dance Africa, Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, US

Cutumba has also toured to Barbados, Curacao, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Surinam, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Mexico and Canada.


New York TImes, May 31, 2002

DANCE REVIEW; Rhythms of the Ancestors Are Pulsating Still



The Brooklyn Academy of Music may well have been the most jubilant place in New York City last Friday night. DanceAfrica celebrated its 25th anniversary, and it was an occasion for cheering.


Each year, the festival, under Chuck Davis's direction, brings together companies reflecting various African and African-American dance traditions. These events are more than performances. Through Mr. Davis's simultaneously jovial and inspirational words of greeting, he honors great dancers of the past, proclaims dance a positive force in today's world and invites members of the audience to introduce themselves to one another so that Brooklyn Academy is transformed into a community of friends.

This year's special attraction was the New York debut of Ballet Folklórico Cutumba, a Cuban group of dancers and musicians from Santiago de Cuba whose productions reflect Cuban, Haitian and African traditions. The troupe, directed by Idalberto Bandera Sido, presented three scenes, or segments, as the program called them, each with its own title: ''Gara,'' ''Tajona'' and ''Rumba'' But what one actually saw were dances that flowed into one another with scarcely a break.

Cutumba was a blaze of brightness. The dancers waved brightly colored banners and the women whirled in brightly colored skirts. Yet the greatest excitement was generated by the dancing itself. A festivity led to a knife fight with blades that struck sparks. But rivalries gave way to a joyous procession and a dance in which streamers were tied in multicolored patterns around a tall stick resembling a maypole. Cutumba would be welcome here any time.


NEW YORK TIMES,  May 19, 2002

DANCE; A Cuban Blend As Diversified As Cuba Itself


''CUBA is like a big ajiaco, that is to say, a plate where many types of meat are put,'' said Idalberto Bandera, the artistic director of Ballet Folklorico Cutumba. ''Every culture brought by the people who arrived in this country was mixed with the existing ones.'' Mr. Bandera might just as easily have been talking about his company as his homeland. Cutumba draws on African, Haitian and Hispanic influences in its vibrant program of dances and songs. It will make its New York debut on Friday as part of DanceAfrica's 25th-anniversary celebration at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. This year, nine companies will perform in the festival of African-American dance, which runs through next Sunday and includes poetry readings, film screenings, master classes and a bazaar on the parking lot adjacent to the academy. Cutumba is based in Santiago de Cuba, a city in Oriente Province about 600 miles southeast of Havana. It was one of 18 groups auditioned by Chuck Davis, the director of DanceAfrica, on a trip to Cuba last year. He knew immediately that it was a company he wanted in the festival. ''Cutumba hit the stage, and that's all she wrote,'' Mr. Davis said. ''If they could move me that way on a bare stage with minimal lights, what would they do at BAM?'' Mr. Bandera, who is also a principal dancer and choreographer for Cutumba, has taken an interest in salvaging early ethnic Cuban dance. ''We have conducted extensive research in the Oriente Province to rescue all of the Afro-Haitian dances and music,'' he said. Included are dances honoring the Orishas, divine beings worshipped by the Yorubas of West Africa and by practitioners of Santería in Cuba. ''The music and dance of the Orishas is a direct link to Africa,'' Mr. Bandera said. Each Orisha has devotional songs, dances and rhythms associated with him or her, and Cutumba will begin its performances with a 12-minute introduction of the Orishas from the Yoruba pantheon. Cutumba's repertory ranges from spiritual dances to those performed by dancers at supper clubs in pre-Castro Havana. Much of the troupe's choreography is based on the rumba, the dance most associated with Cuba. Because Spanish colonists in Cuba did not prohibit African slaves from playing drums, as American colonists did, the percussive aspect of the African music largely survived, and it easily accommodated the rhythms of the African, Iberian and Cuban music. The male dancers in Cutumba, in puffy shirts and fedoras, pursue their sassy female counterparts, in frilly dresses. With hips that swing sensuously, the dancers take to the rumba as naturally as breathing. Mr. Bandera's goal has been to choreograph new works that not only uphold the integrity of the Cuban folkloric style but also exhibit a theatrical flair. His elaboration on a native dance called tahona recreates the celebration of the slaves on coffee plantations, ending in a jubilant maypole dance. Other dances combine the steamy couplings of Haitian gaga and the frenzy of the ciclo de rumba, adding novel elements like knife-tossing, acrobatics, tap dancing and flamencolike footwork. Interspersed with the choreography is rich vocal music, like the eastern Cuban son, which peppers the haunting Santerían rhythms with phrases like, ''Cuba is a beautiful woman who commands much respect but can get out of hand sometimes.'' Like the dancers, the percussionists have developed their skills from an early age. ''We believe that one should be born with the heart to play the drums,'' Mr. Bandera said. The 20 members of Cutumba have toured extensively and often teach master classes during their travels. ''If I had to attribute one word to this group, it would be humanity,'' Mr. Davis said. ''Not only are they well versed in who they are and their cultural traditions, they are willing to share it.'' ______________________________________________________________

The Dominion, Wellington, New Zealand, March 3, 2002   Kirsten MacKenzie

This performance was a celebration of the cultural melting pot that is Cuba. Vibrant colours and costumes, dueling drummers, high kicking and leaping dancers, this show was action packed. Two groups of dancers interlaced coloured ribbons around a maypole, culminating in a frenzied climax of disentangling the ribbons, all perfectly choreographed. An energetic performance meant a fun time was had by all. ______________________________________________________________

The Herald, Glasgow, UK, August 7, 2001  Mary Brennan

Cutumba - one of Cuba's foremost folkloric companies - celebrates on-stage in a blaze of colourful costumes, backed by full-throttle driving percussion and vocalists who can really belt it out from the sidelines. It's high-spirited fun, cheerfully showy - skillful stick-twirling, feats of strength, and sudden acrobatics keep popping into the dancing - but there's a series, historical side if you care to consider it. ________________________________________________________________

The Scotsman, Edinburgh, UK, August 8, 2001   Kelly Apter

The watchword here is energy...fully charged for the entire show...90 minutes of vibrant movement, intoxicating rhythms and emotive realize that for the Cubans, music and dance isn't just something you do in your spare time - it's in the blood.



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