“Let’s Make That Drum Talk!” Interview with the Bombazo Dance Company’s Milteri Tucker

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In La Respuesta magazine, Gabriel José Maldonado interviews Milteri Tucker, founder and artistic director of the Bombazo Dance Company, which recently performed at the Afro-Latino Festival of New York (held July 10-12). Here are excerpts; make sure to check out the full interview in the link below. [Many thanks to Tato Conrad for sharing this item.]

La Respuesta had the pleasure of interviewing Milteri Tucker, the Founder and Artistic Director of the Bombazo Dance Company [. . .]. We discussed what it means to be not only an Afro-Boricua, but also an educator of the traditional music and dance of ‘Bomba’.

While I may be the last person you would see on the dance floor, there is something truly profound and spiritual about the art form of Bomba. [. . .] Fusing classical, contemporary and social styles of dance, Tucker, along with her diverse staff of performers from areas like Asia, Europe, Central & South America, as well as the Caribbean and general African Diaspora, have created a new movement, while still preserving the authenticity of the traditional form of Bomba.

But, why exactly is their dance company called ‘Bombazo’?

According to Tucker, “the word ‘Bombazo’ signifies a Bomba jam. It is where the community gathers to celebrate life through its rhythms, song and dance.” That being said, the key word in her definition is “community”, because when we are within a communal setting we have the opportunity to learn about the importance of each others culture and identity.

milteri[. . .] The first activity that she often has her K-12 students complete before even setting things into motion is to first go home, ask their parents about their culture, ask them about one particular dance from their culture, then come back to class and teach it to her. By doing this, “dance becomes universal”, as Tucker says. Children become no different from each other and they can come together to share their dances as a collective. But what this activity also does for youth is help them find their cultural identity and “preserve the stories of their elders”, Tucker notes.

[. . .] As a child growing up in Ponce, her grandmother and her aunt gave her the inspiration to dance and sing. From that moment on, throughout her childhood she was always moving on the “tip-of-her-toes”, and always right there beside her was her mother, providing her with moral support. So when it comes to her roots, Tucker firmly believes Bomba needs to be present and be taught in the community today because it’s not only part of our culture, but our histories, histories in which we have to continue to preserve.

Too often, Bomba is “miscategorized and mislabeled”, says Tucker. She has even heard people associate “Santería with the traditional dance of Bomba, going on to giving it a negative stigma”. But Tucker challenges those labels by stating that “movement is her religion”, and she is proud of her Afro-Boricua roots! [. . .]

Check out Bombazo’s promotional trailer here.

For full interview, see http://larespuestamedia.com/drum-talk-with-milteri/

[Photos provided by the Bombazo Dance Co. for original article.]

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