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About this community discussion and performance series

Watch the video recording of this event here:

On February 2nd Lucumí practitioners celebrate the Virgen de la Candelaria, syncretized with the orisa Oyá who symbolizes the wind, societal transformation, and owner of the marketplace. In Brazil, Candomblé practitioners celebrate Yemaya’s feast day. Yemaya and Oya are feminine orishas that represent cosmological counterpoints, death and maternity, in their embodiment of the black feminine divine in West African and diasporic epistemologies. The second part of our series will consider these feminine energies in Afro Atlantic spiritualities in tandem with the sonic and historic legacies of Quisqueya, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We have invited a
stellar group of artists and scholars Dr. Kyrah Malika Daniels, Maxine Montilus, Stephanie “Soli” Araujo, and Ayanna Legros and hosts Jadele McPherson and Joseph A. Torres-Gonzáles whose work will expand our conversation about Afro-Latinx artistry, ecology and wellness.

Please join us as we continue to grapple with social distancing, keeping our creativity alive and practicing wellness as we experience a new phase of compounded duress during this global pandemic. Our series invokes our ancestral voices for wisdom as we chat as if we were hanging out in someone’s living room, and share intimate, live performances that will inspire us to begin this New Year refreshed and fortified.

This event is free and open to the public, but please register here to access the Zoom link and attend.

Image credits: Left: Dancer Rita Macias, photo by Lin Benitez. Middle: LaSirenn by Pablo Soto Campoamo. Right: Vodou Practitioner, by Fet Gede, Haiti.




Image credits: Left: Jadele McPherson performing at "Sister Sanchez Tribute" at the Schomburg Center, photo by Ed Forti. Right: from LaSirene, Rites & Reason Theatre, Brown University


~ We dedicate this series to the spirit and memory of Miriam Jiménez Román whose pioneering work on Afro-Latinx intellectuals and artists in New York City continues to inspire new collaborations. ~


More About the Participants and their Work:

Dr. Kyrah Malika Daniels

Dr. Kyrah Malika Daniels is Assistant Professor of Art History, Africana Studies, and Theology at Boston College. Her first book (Art of the Healing Gods, in progress) is a comparative religion project that examines sacred art objects used in healing ceremonies of Haiti and Congo-Kinshasa. Following the Haitian earthquake of 2010, she worked in St. Raphael with Lakou Soley Academic and Cultural Arts Center, a grassroots organization that develops arts-based pedagogy. Her work has been published in the Journal of Africana Religions, the Journal of Haitian Studies, and the Journal for the American Academy of Religion. Daniels currently serves as Vice-President for KOSANBA, the Scholarly Association for the Study of Haitian Vodou, and as a Leadership Council Member for the African and Diasporic Religious Studies Association (ADRSA).

Maxine Montilus

Maxine Montilus is a native of Brooklyn, New York and a first-generation Haitian-American. Maxine has a B.F.A. in Modern Dance Performance from The University of the Arts, and an M.A. in Arts Management from City University London. She has also had the opportunity to study Afro Cuban dance and culture through the annual “Dog Aguas” program founded by Danys “La Mora” Perez from 2010-2012, which took her to Havana, Matanzas and Santiago de Cuba; and has studied Afro-Haitian dance with various master teachers, such as Adia Whitaker, Peniel Guerrier and Julio Jean.

Maxine is a 2014 EMERGENYC artist with New York University ’s Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics. As a dancer, Maxine has performed with Ase Dance Theatre Collective, Balasole Dance Company, KaNu Dance Theater and Tamara LaDonna Moving Spirits. Maxine also performed with SpeakDance Collective in the Festival of Art and Folklore in Santiago de Cuba in April 2016, and was a featured artist in the annual New Traditions Showcase of Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE from 2015-2016.

As a choreographer, Maxine has presented work at the "Being Bushified!"​ culture and community series hosted by Urban Bush Women, The Pearl Showcase, "The Makings of You"​ (at Dance New Amsterdam) and "Epic Narratives"​(at The Actors Fund Arts Center) with Tamara LaDonna Moving Spirits, "Shadow of a Pearl"​ and "Malgre Tout"​ with KaNu Dance Theater at Jamaica Performing Arts Center, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, Harlem School for the Arts with Haiti Cultural Exchange for their annual Selebrasyon Festival, and the inaugural Rex Nettleford Arts Conference in Kingston, Jamaica. In 2014, she choreographed BallyBeg Production's third play and Equity-approved showcase, "The Taste Of It", and was a 2015 nominee for Outstanding Choreography/Movement in The New York Innovative Theater Awards for her work in the production.

Stephanie “Soli” Araujo

Stephanie “Soli” Araujo is a writer, MC, and performer based in Washington Heights. She was the sole female MC in the hip hop group “The Machine” (2010-2019), formed as a collective by a dynamic group of storytellers whose bond is fortified by their New York and Dominican roots. The Machine has toured and performed at many venues as well as universities as a means to promote the spirit of hip-hop among a new generation. Soli’s work explores thematics such as gentrification, belonging, cultural heritage and other social political topics in her lyrics and poetry. Soli’s work was recognized by the Five Borough Story Project and Word Up Community Bookstore, and her voice is inspiring a new generation of poets and performers living in Uptown New York City.

Ayanna Legros

Ayanna Legros is an interdisciplinary historian of 20th century Caribbean and Latin America. She is completing at Ph.D. in the Department of History at Duke University. Her dissertation project: “Echoes in Exile: Haitian Radio Activism in New York City (1969-2002)” spans the fields of sound studies, immigration, Black diaspora studies, and histories of technology. Her work uses oral histories, radio show transcripts, cassette tapes, and songs to craft a nuanced history of Haitians peoples’ usage of radio to inform and empower new political visions for the nation. She is the recipient of fellowships from Davis Foundation 100 Projects for Peace (Batey Lechería, Dominican Republic), National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals, Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellowship through Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (Harlem, New York) and teaching residences at Dominican Academy, Loyola School, Success Academy, and City University of New York. Upcoming publications include From the Other Side of the Sea: Rasanblaj/Reassembling Haitian Radio Archives of Exile (UVA Press, 2021) and Haiti and the Hispanophone Caribbean (SUNY Press, 2020).

Jadele McPherson. Photo by Jon Vachon

Jadele McPherson is an artist-scholar whose research focuses on the intersections of sound and healing, mutual aid, and performance in Florida, Haiti and Cuba. McPherson is currently a PhD student in the CUNY Graduate Center Anthropology Department and teaching fellow with the Mellon Seminar for Collaborative Research and Engagement where she is researching how sound impacts wellness, climate change & environmental sustainability. As a founder of Lukumi Arts (2008), an experimental theatre company focused on Afro-Cuban arts, she wrote and produced La Sirene: Rutas de Azúcar which debuted at JACK (2016), in the HERE Arts SANCTUARY series, and Brown University's Rites & Reason Theatre (2017). Jadele was an artist in the James Baldwin tribute Can I Get a Witness? at Harlem Stage co-created by director Charlotte Brathwaite and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, and No More Water/The Fire Next Time at the Park Ave Armory (February 2018). Jadele was also a featured guest on The Hoodoisie, a Chicago-based radical live news show (October 2018) and shortly after released her solo debut EP entitled “Peace & Quiet” (2019).

Joseph A. Torres-González

Joseph A. Torres-González is a 4th year Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center. He holds a master's degree in Anthropology and a Certificate of Graduate Studies in Latin American, Caribbean, and US Latino Studies, both from the State University of New York, University at Albany. His research interests are in the intersections of History and Anthropology, Political Economy, Popular culture, and consumption. His current research project is based in Puerto Rico, studying food, coffee shops, baristas, ethnicity, and identity. Joseph works as a research assistant at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy, serves as a Graduate Fellow at the Office of Educational Opportunity and Diversity Programs at the CUNY Graduate Center, and teaches as an Adjunct Lecturer at the Department of Anthropology at Brooklyn College.

This event is sponsored by Teaching Fellow Jadele McPherson's Afrofuturist Sound Ecologies project as part of the Mellon Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research from the Center for the Humanities at TheGraduate Center, CUNY.

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