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Grupo Olorun

Grupo Olorun was established in 2000 under the direction of dancer, choreographer, Susana Arenas. The repertoire of Grupo Olorun focuses on Afro-Cuban folkloric traditions. They are based primarily in the Bay area and are regular performers and educators in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento. Principal members of Grupo Olorun include Susana Arenas and Jose Baroso of Raices Profundas, Rogelio Kindelan of Grupo Ban Rra Rra and Sandy Perez of Grupo Afro-Cuba. Premiere students of these four internationally renowned Cuban artists round out the group. This highly talented and energetic ensemble is part of a growing movement of new-generation Cuban artists dedicated to preserving their cultural heritage. They have been described as "a mesmerizing experience."

BIOGRAPHY - GRUPO OLORUN – Afro-Cuban Ensemble

Principal members of Grupo Olorun include Susana Arenas, Sandy Perez, and Jose Baroso. All three are serious students in the ancient traditions Afro-Cuban music and dance and are highly respected as artists educators and scholars. The group is rounded out by premiere students of these three internationally renowned Cuban artists.

Susana Arenas
Pedroso began her career in dance at age twelve, studying at Casa De Cultura in Matanzas, Cuba. Trained in Cuba’s highly revered performing art schools, Ms. Arena’s proficient education includes the classics as well as Afro-Cuban folkloric cultural traditions. Her professional career began when she moved to Havana and joined popular, folkloric and theatrical performing groups, including Tierra Virgen, Alafia Ire, Oche Olorun, Ban Rra Rra, Oriki and Raices Profundas. She was a principal choreographer and dancer in 1999 and 2001 with Grupo Ache Olorun in the Ethnic Dance Festival and in Noche Folklorica with Grupo Omo Ache and Obin Bata..

Susana is an accomplished educator and extraordinary and energetic performer /choreographer who has performed and taught throughout the Americas and Europe. Her expertise in the musical and dance traditions of the African and Cuban Diaspora make her an invaluable resource.

Ramon "Sandy" Garcia Perez
, a child prodigy and master Batalero/Congero, is one of the best known and most talented of the young percussionists from Matanzas, Cuba. He was the principal percussionist for twelve years with Grupo Afro Cuba De Matanzas and has received world acclaim for his expertise and extraordinary talents as percussionist and instructor. Ramon, a direct descendant from the legendary Villamil family, embodies a profound wealth of knowledge in the legacy of Afro-Cuban folklore from the cradle of African culture in Cuba.

Born in 1970 in Matanzas, he began playing music when he was eight years old, in a group comprised completely of children. They played "musica campesina" (rural folk music) in national festivals and functions. When he was ten years old, he joined a group called "Nueva Generacion" (New Generation") consisting of the children of the members of Los Muñequitos De Matanzas. They performed at all Muñequitos De Matanzas concerts.

Several years later he founded his own group whose name was, and still is, Yumurinos de Matanzas. The group performed at all important festivals in Havana, in the "Festival de la Rumba" in Matanzas and numerous other events festivals and concerts.

In 1987 he began playing in one of Cuba’s most highly esteemed, folkloric groups, AfroCuba De Matanzas and remained with the group as principal percussionist and instructor for twelve years. His exposure to this level of professionalism make him a treasure house of the traditions Afro-Cuban percussion.

He has worked on numerous solo projects with various universities in the United States such as Stanford, University of Arcada, the University of Arizona, and San Francisco State. He has also worked with Anga Diaz, Yosvany Terry, Yousou N’Dour and Sawinu.

Jose Francisco Barroso learned to dance in the streets of Havana, where he was Discovered by Juan de Dios, director of Raices Profundas. He thus began his professional studies with Raices Profundas and within less than a year became a principal soloist. During his professional career, he conducted workshops and master classes at US universities, performed as guest artist and choreographer for major companies. Upon relocating to the US he formed his own folkloric Cuban ensemble. As a practitioner of the Lucumi traditions, his dedication and continued research make him one of the new generation of young Cuban nationals committed to maintaining authenticity and educating the community in the profundity of Afro-Cuban traditions.

Rogelio Kindelan Nordet was born October 25, 1961 in Guantanamo, Cuba. His family of folkloric musicians and dancers of Haitian descent nurtured his talents encouraging him to pursue his career as a percussionist. Enrolled at the University of Santiago, Cuba he majored in Folkloric Studies and went on earn his degree (the equivalent of a MFA) in 1987 from the Centro Nacional de Superacion de la Ensenanza Artistica (CNSEA) in Havana. (National university for the performing arts)

From 1982 -1985 he became Director of the Folkloric Studies Dept at CNSEA. He has acted as Professor of Folkloric Percussion at CNSEA, Pablo Milanes Foundation and La Escuela Nacional De Artes. Since his arrival in the United States in July 1997, he has provided instruction at Caribbean Music and Dance’s 1997 Cuban Salsa workshops in San Francisco, the California Academy of Arts and Sciences, Alhambra Academy, Santa Clara University, Sacramento City College, Alice Arts Center in Oakland, Mission Cultural Club and Humboldt State University.

His performing career includes lead percussionist for numerous groups including Projecto Folkorico, Banara, Ballet de Belgium and Conjunto Folklorico Cutumba de Santiago.

His mastery of percussion instruments include:

Agogo (iron bell), Bongos, Cencerro (cowbell), Shekere (beaded gourd), Cajone (wood box), Conga, Tumba Francesa, Guiro (serrated calabash), Marimbula (thumb piano box) and Maracas.

In addition to his achievements as a percussionist, Mr. Nordet is also an accomplished dancer and vocalist in the following styles:

Merengue, Haitiano, Rumba, Gaga, Palo, Vodu, Tumba Francesa, Pregones, Changui, Tajona Monton Palo and Chancleta.


April 5, 2003: Afro-Latino Festival, Tucson






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