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University of Iowa News Release


April 9, 2008

UI Afro-Cuban Ensemble celebrates 'Carnival' April 12 in Englert Theatre

The University of Iowa Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble and guest artists will celebrate "Carnival!" with a concert of music, dance and spectacle at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 12, in the Englert Civic Theatre at 221 E. Washington St. in downtown Iowa City.

In addition to the ensemble's traditional Afro-Cuban folklore repertory, the performance will feature a special celebration of Cuban and Brazilian Carnival. The ensemble will be joined by musician Ed East of Orquesta Alto Maiz and dancer Modei Akyea of the UI Latin-American Dance Club.

The evening will also feature choreography by Armando Duarte of the UI Department of Dance faculty and costumes by Loyce Arthur of the Department of Theatre Arts faculty.

The Afro/Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble was founded six years ago after UI School of Music drummers James Dreier and Paul Cunliffe attended a workshop in Matanzas, Cuba, led by the internationally recognized rumba group Los Munequitos de Matanzas.

Since then, the ensemble has grown and developed into an interdisciplinary class drawing on resources of the School of Music and the Dance Department -- the first interdisciplinary class that was developed after the creation of the UI Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The group performs community outreach programs through UI Arts Share for schools throughout Iowa, and was chosen to perform at the 2004 Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Nashville.

The ensemble studies the folkloric music and dance traditions of Cuba, which has greatly influenced the music of North America and other parts of the world. The styles studied by the group include rumba, guiro, bembe, palo, mozambique, conga de comparsa, arara, yesa and bata.

Dreier, Cunliffe and Dance Department faculty member Daniel Stark journeyed to Cuba again in 2002 with 10 UI dance and percussion students for another workshop in Matanzas.

World-renowned percussionist and Afro/Cuban scholar Michael Spiro has made frequent trips to the UI for clinics and workshops with the ensemble. In December 2003 Spiro and Cuban dancer and percussionist Roberto Borrell were visiting guest artists of the UI Dance Department, giving master classes and assisting in the creation of instructional materials on folkloric Afro/Cuban drum, dance and song.

This concert is made possible by a grant from the Arts Across Borders initiative of the UI Division of Performing Arts.

Tickets to "Carnival!" are $12; $6 for students; and may be purchased from the Englert Box Office, 319-688-2653. The box office is open 1 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Any remaining tickets will be on sale one hour before the show.

The Department of Dance, the School of Music and the Department of Theatre Arts are units of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The mission of the Englert Civic Theatre, Inc., is to own, maintain and operate the Englert Theatre as a community arts center and performance space, enhancing the vitality of Iowa City's historic downtown by preserving its last historic theater. Visit the Englert's Web page at

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Dan Stark, 319-335-2228,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),