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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 31, 2008

UI Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble performs Nov. 15 and 16

The Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble of the University of Iowa Division of Performing Arts will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, in the Space Place Theatre of North Hall on the UI campus.

The ensemble is led by James Dreier from the School of Music and Paul Cunliffe from the Department of Dance. Well-known folkloric dancer and Latin dance instructor Modei Akyea, a Web designer in the UI Office of University Relations, has joined the ensemble this semester as a performer and instructor of dance.

In March of 2003 Cunliffe and Dreier organized a study-abroad trip for dance and music students at the UI. The group traveled to Matanzas, Cuba, to study Afro-Cuban folkloric dance, drumming and songs with the world-renowned folkloric ensembles Los Munequitos and Afrocuba de Matanzas. On returning, the Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble was formed by Cunliffe, Dreier and former UI Department of Dance visiting faculty member Daniel Stark.

Through the UI outreach program Arts Share, the Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble has performed concerts and lecture/demonstrations on campus and in public schools and colleges throughout Iowa. Each fall semester the ensemble can be seen at Space Place Theater.

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 and yesa, to name a few.

Percussion expert 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.

Admission to the performances is $12 for adults, $6 for UI students and youth. Tickets are available in advance from the University Box Office, 319-335-3041; 1-800-346-4401. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Paul Cunliffe,; James Dreier,; Modei Akyea,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073,