JACK and Lukumi Arts Present Jadele McPherson


In this monumental week in Cuban and Cuban-American history, singer/performer Jadele McPherson creates a musical and theatrical bridge connecting the Cuban-American experience of today with black liberation figures, conjurers and spiritual leaders from two hundred years ago. Scenes of a young Cuban-American woman discovering her own rebellious ancestry are swallowed by music, dance and ritual featuring some of the great dance and music artists this city has to offer, many coming out of Cuban and Haitian traditions, including Osvaldo “Bembesito” Lora, Val Jeanty, Maxine Montilus, Yomaira Gonzalez, Caridad Paisan Garbey, Daniel Gil, Hansel Vaillant, Miguelo Valdes, Charles Hartand Diosvany Valladares. Themes of black resistance – both historical and contemporary – swell in this colorful and immersive spectacle.

La Sirene: Rutas de Azucar (loose translation: “Black Mermaid: Sugar Routes”) takes as its inspiration Cuban revolutionary José Antonio Aponte‘s libro de pinturas, a book of paintings of black heroes that served as a catalyst for an attempted rebellion against colonists;

DATES/TIMES: Thursday – Saturday, Dec. 1 – 3 at 8 pm and Sunday, Dec. 4 at 2 pm

LOCATION: JACK | 505 ½ Waverly Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238 | C or G train to Clinton-Washington

TICKETS: $18 each event, or weekend pass at $45, at www.jackny.org or cash only at the door.

LOCATION: JACK | 505 ½ Waverly Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238 | C or G train to Clinton-Washington


Each performance will be followed by community events led by artist-scholars in Caribbean performance and spirituality, including Danielle Brown, Ph.D. (Brooklyn/Trinidad), Nathalie Guillaume (World Healing Traditions-Haiti), Goussy Célestin (Interdisciplinary Artist-NY-Haiti), and Val Jeanty (Afro-Electronica-Haiti).

Thursday: “Mapping the Caribbean” a panel discussion led by performer-scholar DanielleBrown (guests TBA)
Friday: Dance Afterparty with DJ Val Jeanty
Saturday: Afro-Cuban Rumba for the Vispera de Santa Barbara-Chango (the eve of Saint Barbara-Shango’s Day) featuring the La Sirene cast
Sunday: “Healing Quisqueya and Beyond,” a panel discussion with Dr. Nathalie Guillaume, Goussy Célestin, Jose Perez and Osvaldo Lora.


Jadele McPherson is a choreographer, singer and actress. In 2015, she created the musical-theatrical piece, DA CLOCK, and performed it at Pregones Theater for Pepatian’s Creating Connections, and at JACK, with support from a Brooklyn Arts Council Community Fund Grant. This piece is the third in a series on violence and the black body with her Lukumi Arts theater collective which presented Wemilere: Songs & A Just Meditation at JACK in December 2015. This past spring, McPherson performed as a part of Latasha Digg’s tributes to Jayne Cortez at the Lincoln Center Atrium & the Highline Park. In August 2016 she performed with Yosvany Terry’s Quintet at BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn tribute to Celia Cruz with Angelique Kidjofeaturing Pedrito Martinez.

Charlotte Brathwaite (Consulting Director) is a New York-based Canadian/Barbadian/UK stage director who is known for her unique approach to staging classical and unconventional texts, dance, visual art, multi-media, site-specific installation, performance art and music events. Her work has been seen in the Americas, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia and ranges in subject matter from the historical past to the distant future illuminating issues of race, sex, power and the complexities of the human condition. She was recently named as one of the “up-and-coming women in theatre to watch” by Playbill. Upcoming projects include: (BE)LONGING, composed by Byron Au Young and written by Aaron Jaffaries produced by Arktype; and Can I Get a Witness, conceived and composed by Meshell Ndegeocello. She is also Associate Director for the dance work FLEXN, directed by Peter Sellars and Reg Rocc Gray. Charlotte is recipient of several awards and citations including the Princess Grace Award and the Julian Milton Kaufman Prize (Yale), a Rockefeller Residency, and the National Performing Network Creation Fund. She received her MFA at Yale School of Drama and has been a Visiting Professor at Amherst College, a visiting artist at Williams College and is currently Assistant Professor of Theater Arts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Val Jeanty: The granddaughter of a Mambo (Vodou priestess), she has created a distinctive style of music called Vodou electronica which she also refers to as Afro Electronica. Her music weaves in electronica and Haitian and African Vodou rhythms. She has performed at the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, and internationally at music festivals in Austria and Switzerland. In the documentary film The United States of Hoodoo, she speaks about the relationship between sound and spirituality. Growing up in Fontamara, Haiti, Val Jeanty attended Sacré Cœur which she describes as “a prestigious [C]atholic school, in a ritzy-bourgeois area” with strict rules.[2] On her music, Jeanty says: “I use these electronic tools, but the music is spiritual-something you might hear at church, or in any other religious ceremony. It’s the kind of sound that gives your spirit freedom to roam. The sound is definitely on a frequency people are not used to hearing. But it speaks to them. It takes them to another sphere.”

Yomaira Gonzalez (Actor/Ensemble): An emerging actor and singer, Gonzalez began her artistic journey in musical theater growing up in Union City, NJ. She completed her bachelor’s in Psychology and a minor in Theatre at Kean University. She is continuing her studies there to complete a M.A. in Psychology (Human Behavior and Organizational Psychology). This year, she received a Students Partnering with Faculty grant allowing college students to collaborate with their faculty to conduct research. The creative work they developed sought to combine a live theatre experience with mindfulness exercises to create uniquely meaningful performances for very young audiences. Yomaira intends to use drama processes to achieve therapeutic goals as an organizational psychologist and professional development trainer.

Caridad Paisan Garbey, Guest Artist (Miami, FL). Born in Santiago de Cuba, Caridad Paisan hails from a family of deeply rooted Franco-Haitiano traditions and culture. Her mother was a founding member of the Cutumba Dance Company in Santiago. Paisans father Inaudis Paisan was a distinguished trumpet player and musician. These roots inspired her journey as a dancer and singer working in her professional career in Havana where she met her husband and artistic collaborator Daniel Gil. They performed for over two decades with groups such as Clave y Guaguanco that focus on traditional Afro-Cuban rumba as one of the first groups dedicated to defending African cultural & musical traditions in Havana. Today Paisan brings a wealth of expertise and cultural love for her Afro-Cuban culture as an active artist in Miami’s Afro-Cuban and Haitian communities. La Sirene: Rutas de Azucar will be Paisan’s New York debut.

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.

Daniel Gil, Guest Artist (Miami, FL). A native of Havana, Cuba Gil is a master percussionist now based in Miami, FL where he is an integral member of Afro-Cuban musical and sacred traditions. He brings over two decades of collaboration in cultural professional ensembles in Cuba like Clave y Guaguanco as well as being an important part of his neighborhood and family roots in Havana. He is dedicated to building ensemble work here as a percussionist, rhythmic preservation of Afro-Cuban musical traditions and passing these forms on to a new international generation of Cuban and artists of all backgrounds.

Osvaldo “Bembesito” Lora. Bembesito is one of the most renowned and versatile “akpons” in the U.S. and maybe even internationally speaking. With over 10 years of experience performing religious ceremonies and as an olo Obatala he brings a level of professionalism that is hard to find in most ceremonies. Bembesito’s crew does it all, from cajon to guiro to Aña and even the music of the 21 divisions from the Dominican Republic also called los palos. Over all the experience you will receive at a ceremony where Bembesito performs will be clean, authentic, professional and like no other…

Diosvany Valladares was born and raised in Havana, Cuba, and by 25 had mastered every Afro-Cuban percussion genre from rumba and batá to Arara drumming. As a boy growing up in these traditions in the community of El Cerro, Valladares is part of well-known family of santeros and artists in all Afro-Cuban disciplines. This backbone has led him to become a vital member to New York City’s Afro-Cuban religious communities hvaing reloacted here in 2001. He is known for being a passionate and energetic performer and has recorded and performed with Roman Diaz. He has also performed with Oriki Omi Odara and Raices Habaneras and remains integral to the Afro-Cuban arts community in New York.

Charles Hart is a producer, visual artist, batalero, and arts educator from Middlesex, Vermont. He has bought innovative projects to the classroom utilizing hip-hop elements and production, multimedia, clay and mosaic murals. Hart directs FixaFlat Productions and Cringe Audio which foster musical collaborations with top producers, artists and performers for cutting edge recording and experimental music projects. He has worked in the Afro-Cuban arts community as a percussionist and arts organizer for over a decade, to cultivate new sounds based in clave and Afro-Cuban bata percussion. Over the years he has worked with and produced for Philbert Armenteros, Juan Fuentes, Angel Guerrero (Enyenison Enkama), Sandy Perez, Lekian Aguilar (Havana) and many others.

Carlos Mateu, Installation Artist. Carlos Mateu was born in 1970 in Havana, Cuba, and has resided in the United States since 1997. He studied mechanical drawing at the FernandoAguado y Rico Technological Institute, and completed his formal art education at the renowned San Alejandro National Academy of Fine Arts. Most recently, Carlos was commissioned to lead a mural project at Hostos Community College, and he was selected as one of the 60 Masters of Contemporary Art by Art Tour International Magazine in 2014. He calls his style geometric pop. His paintings fuse elements of cubism with realism, using straight lines and perspective to create a geometric and three-dimensional effect, while subtly deforming the images. His subject matter incorporates surrealism and mysticism to reflect the Afro Cuban life and religions, memories of Cuba, his life in the United States and his own creative perspective on the world.

Danielle Brown received her Ph.D. in Music from New York University with a concentration in ethnomusicology, and a specialization in the music of Latin America and the Caribbean. Her research has focused mostly on parang/parranda music in Trinidad and, more recently, the intersection of music, spirituality, and healing. DR. Brown has conducted work in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe. Before starting MPTS, DR. Brown served for two years as an Assistant Professor of Music History and Cultures at Syracuse University. She has also taught classes in music theory and music history at New York University and at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. In addition, she has worked with elementary, middle, and high school students, and is certified in the Kodály method of music education. DR. Brown is a vocalist and cuatro player, and she composes and performs jazz and Latin American and Caribbean-based music. For more information on DR. Brown‘s academic and professional work experience.

Dr. Nathalie Guillaume is an alumnus of the University of Miami where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry and Foreign Languages. She holds a Master of Science in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine from the Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine, and a Clinical Doctorate in Pain Management & Oncology from Bastyr University. She specializes in lifestyle medicine with an emphasis on nutrition, meditation & Qi Gong, and is dedicated to promoting the benefits of holistic health to the community. She is currently adjunct faculty for the Graduate School of Oriental Medicine at the New York College of Health Professions and practices in New York City where she is the CEO and Medical Director of Healing Happy Hour.

Goussy Célestin currently performs throughout the NYC-Tri state area as a musician and dancer. She is an alum of ASE Dance Theater Collective, a neo-folklore ensemble dedicated to the traditional/contemporary arts of the African Diaspora filtered through Haitian music and dance. She is also a member of ¡Retumba!, an all-female multi-ethnic music-dance ensemble dedicated to the traditions of the Caribbean and Latin-America, in addition to serving as lead vocalist for Charanga Soleil. Ms. Célestin’s wide range of interests and versatility, has led her to study classical piano, Jazz and Latin music. While in Cuba, she had the honor of performing with members of the Buena Vista Social Club, as well as performing/mentoring with members of Grupo AfroCuba de Matanzas, Yoruba Andabo and Clave Y Guaguanco. She has performed at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, Del Terzo Studio at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, SOB’s, the Knitting Factory, NJPAC, Tilles Center, Newark Symphony Space, Joe’s Pub, as well as various jazz clubs in NYC.

Jose Perez is a writer and editor, an investigative reporter, a West Indian Nationalist, and a public school history teacher at North Miami Middle School where over 80% of his students are Haitian. He infuses social justice into his underground curriculum, which has led to him to become a leader in professional development trainings to teachers in the Miami-Dade County Public School System, the 4th largest in the United States. Pérez also was a Research Assistant for Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando during the production of her moving documentary about Haitians in Cuba, Reembarque. Collaborating with AfroCubaWeb.com and Dr. Andrea Queely of Florida International University, he brought Ms. Rolando to North Miami Middle for her only Florida screening of Reembarque. Pérez has been recognized by the Haitian American Cultural Society as well as the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners of Miami-Dade County for journalistic coverage of Haitian heritage. Perez’s interest in the bridges between Ayiti & Kiba is as deep as the joy found in a plate of homemade legume.

Carolina Morones is a Resident Teaching Artist at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). Completing her 5th season at OSF she has enjoyed the challenge of working extensively in Education, community engagement and as an OSF Diversity and Inclusion facilitator. She is proud to be from Oakland, California where she performed professionally with BrasArte’s dance troupe Ginga Brasil. Ms. Morones believes passionately in the transformative and healing qualities of dance and theatre. Aside from teaching and performing at OSF Ms. Morones leads workshops on Afro-Brazilian dance and movement. For the last three years she has collaborated with OSF musicians, dancers and community organizations to create performances like Samba do Coração featured on OSF’s Green Show stage. In 2016 she worked with director and producer Kamilah Long in the creation of Ritualistas: Nina Composedfeaturing spoken words artists Shanessa Sweeney.

JACK’s programming is made possible by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, The DuBose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund, the Mental Insight Foundation and by The Nathan Cummings Foundation.

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