La Falda de Fela (Fela’s Dancing Skirt)

 

June 2017 Bombazo 41 (1 of 1)
Dancer Felicita Hernandez at AfricaCaribe June 2017 Bombazo at the Casita de Don Pedro in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.

I took this image last weekend at a Bombazo which is a gathering of people that dance the ancient Bomba dances from Puerto Rico. During the summer months in Chicago, one of the places that Bombazos take place at is at the Casita de Don Pedro on Division Street in Humboldt Park. I was using a 35mm lens on a Nikon D7000, so I did not have the luxury of very wide angles to capture crowds and overall vistas so I was looking at individuals on a short range. So I photograph without being able to imagine the final result.

On this day I was using a 35mm lens on a Nikon D7000, so I did not have the luxury of very wide angles to capture crowds and overall vistas that I so much like, so I was looking at individuals on a short range. So I photographed without being able to imagine the final result. When I put this image on the computer it became evident that besides the drums the symbol of Bomba dancing are the skirts.

On this day I was using a 35mm lens on a Nikon D7000, so I did not have the luxury of very wide angles to capture crowds and overall vistas so I was looking at individuals on a short range. So I photograph without being able to imagine the final result. When I put this image on the computer it became evident that besides the drums the symbol of Bomba dancing are the skirts, your skill level in many ways are determined by how you handle the skirt.

Felicitas or Fela the individual on the image, handles the skirt gracefully and with skill which shows many years of learning and dedication, in fact I think the skirt becomes her and she express what she feels with the skirt. The skirt and her are one.

Afri Caribe Chicago Fall Recital

Tonight as we think about the senseless brutal murder of Laquan Macdonald and the injustice that it signifies, I divert my mind to think about something that brings peace, reconciliation and diversity to my beloved community, that is AfriCaribe.

Last Saturday we celebrated the fall recital and it was so beautiful to see the room full of so many caring people that participate in an event that teaches about Caribbean cutural heritage. AfriCaribe is peace to our community.

Click here to view the images

AfriCaribe Celebrates 15 Years

Last night was the 15th anniversary gala celebration for AfriCaribe. AfriCaribe is an organization that promotes and teaches the values of the Afro Caribbean culture that are expressed thru the music of Bomba in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighboorhood. As I was having dinner last night I thought why did I get involved in this and I thought the answer is pretty simple. The traditions of Puerto Rico are under tremendous pressure to survive, Puerto Rico is at a crossroads politically and also at a crossroads culturally. The culture of Puerto Rico is not going to die but if it was to become a state a phenomenon similar to Hawaii will take place. The culture of Hawaii has taken a back seat to the interests of continental United States residents moving to Hawaii and thus has relegated a once rich and thriving indigenous culture to a secondary culture.

AfriCaribe thru its programs does not promote a political agenda but it teaches the richness of a culture that traces its roots from the Taino Indians and later on thru the Spanish conquest and the slaves bought from Africa resulting in a melting pot of rhythms and music in one of the richest musical traditions of the world. To me a beautiful thing is the diverse group of people that participate in the activities that AfriCaribe sponsors. The monthly “Bombazos” to me are a wonderful source of inspiration.

For the Puertorican diaspora and others AfriCaribe is a necessity to teach us and our children the values of our rich heritage, close your eyes and imagine that you are in the batey.

To view images of the gala click on link,  http://charliebillupsphotographer.pixieset.com/africaribe15yearanniversarygala/

Bomba y Plena – The Puerto Rican uniqueness

The last year I have had an identity crisis. I have lived in Chicago since 1989 except for a year that I tried to live in Puerto Rico but had to come back since I could not find a job. I have four children two from my first marriage which regularly visit Puerto Rico and I have two from my second marriage and one is a one year old toddler. So for the last two months we have been on a binge of all things Puertorican in our family and last week I went to Puerto Rico myself and when the plane landed I cried. I realized I can not in anyway shape of form divorce me from who I am. I feel more Puertorican now than ever and in my mind I am scheming a way that I can do a business that can more frequently allow me to visit Puerto Rico and Colombia.

With all of that being said, I thought of this, last night we went to the monthly “Bombazo” dance recital at the Placita de Don Pedro in Division Street in Chicago and as I walked in from the street my heart raced, and I felt a rush in my body that let me know that our culture is not dying and that there are people worldwide that are doing everything it takes to keep a tradition, a culture, a way of life, a heritage and distinct culture expression alive.

In the following images we see a Bomba dancer dance a rhythm that when properly executed is more soul than technique, originally it was a dance of black slaves probably performed as the only outlet to express the pain of living in the white european man’s bondage.

Bomba and Plena represent what I call the Puertorican uniqueness which I see in Chicago as a growing movement. Let’s keep it alive.

The moment when you return home – AfriCaribe Dance Recital

afri_caribe_2015_17-
Sarah Maria dancing Bomba at AfriCaribe’s recital

Last night was a night that I felt was a “Homecoming” night for me and I kept thinking of the song by Ruben Blades “Todos Vuelven”. Last night when I first heard the sounds of Bomba music as I walked to La casita de Don Pedro on Division Street, I felt the coming home feeling.

I remember as a child in elementary school how I would practice dancing to bomba music and how many of the kids I grew up with wanted to be Conga players. I was very happy to see AfriCaribe and other groups fostering this beautiful and expressive art form. Last night more then ever I felt very proud to be from Puerto Rico.