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Danilito Perez"Danilito"
Danilo Gregorio Perez Herera

Danilito was well known throughout the province of Matanzas for his serious interest in AfroCuban culture. A strong artist - choreographer and dancer - he was also keenly interested in the preservation and strengthening of the traditional African cultures of Matanzas.  He knew every santero family in the province, even out in the remote villages, where folks remain very close to Africa. He was an Omo Elegguá and Omo Yemayá as well as a Tata Nganga. When his ashes were brought across the Versaille bridge in Matanzas, the area was mobbed and all traffic was stopped.

Danilito was a veteran of Afrocuba de Matanzas, where he was well known as a solo dancer and a choreographer. In this video, he is dancing Elegguá. He could dance with his torso leaned so far back that his head was hanging down to waiste level, he could dance with a very large bowl of fruits on his head. As Tata Nganga, he would say a Missa Congo, conversing with the recent ancestors in Spanish and the older ones in Congo.

He choreographed a number of groups in Matanzas, including Obabi Laye, which held such legendary figures as Virulina, one of the founding members of the Muñequitos de Matanzas, and which was started over 50 years ago. Danilito and the other members went to Spain, where they helped re-inforce a cabildo (a religious self help organization) in Valencia.

His father, who passed two months before he did, was a Villamil, a legendary family in Matanzas, and the brother of Paula Pérez (Afro Cuba de Matanzas), Dolores Pérez (Afro Cuba de Matanzas), and Ana Pérez (los Muñequitos), who all survive him. Thanks to his ahijada Lilian Oviedo for some details and photos.


Danilito era bien conocido en toda la provincia de Matanzas por su serio interés por la cultura afrocubana. Un artista fuerte - coreógrafo y bailarín - también estaba muy interesado en la preservación y el fortalecimiento de las culturas tradicionales africanas de Matanzas. Conocía a todas las familias santeras de la provincia, incluso en los pueblos remotos, donde la gente permanece muy unida a África. Era un omo Elegguá y un omo Yemayá asi que Tata Nganga. Cuando sus cenizas fueron traídas a través del puente de Versalles en Matanzas, el área fue atestada y se detuvo todo el tráfico.

Danilito PerezDanilito era un veterano de Afrocuba de Matanzas, donde se destacó como bailarín solista y coreógrafo. En este video, estaba bailando Elegguá. Podía bailar con el torso tan inclinado hacia atrás que su cabeza colgaba hasta el nivel de la cintura, podía bailar con un cuenco muy grande de frutas en la cabeza. Como Tata Nganga, decía una Missa Congo, conversando con los ancestros recientes en español y los mayores en Congo.

Coreografió varias agrupaciones en Matanzas, entre ellas Obabi Laye, que contó con figuras tan legendarias como Virulina, una de los fundadores de los Muñequitos de Matanzas. El grupo se inició hace más de 50 años. Danilito y los demás miembros fueron a España, donde ayudaron a reforzar un cabildo (una organización religiosa de autoayuda) en Valencia.

Su padre, fallecido dos meses antes que él, era un Villamil, una familia legendaria de Matanzas, y hermano de Paula Pérez (Afro Cuba de Matanzas), Dolores Pérez (Afro Cuba de Matanzas) y Ana Pérez (los Muñequitos) , quienes todos le sobreviven. Gracias a su ahijada Lilian Oviedo por unos detalles y fotos.


Dancer, Choreographer, and Professor, 1997

Popular dance
Strong folkloric dance
Son, Danzon, Cha-cha

"I was born to a family completely full of folkloric traditions and AfroCuban customs, the Villamil family, from which come the greater part of the rumbero singers, percussionists, and dancers in the province of Matanzas within this new generation -- Muñequitos, Afrocuba, Afrocaribeño and other groups.

Aside from being dancer, I am religious:

  • Palero
  • father in ocha and esperitista
  • omo elegua: my name en el santo is echu - ala - ibo

I have participated in important events, at both the national and international level. In my 15 year career, my first experience as a professional was with Afrocuba de Matanzas, where I was solo dancer for 7 years. I worked with master painter Manuel Mendive as a model for African figure painting and thereby made my first international tours [see photo above, taken in Italy].

Then I went into the fields of choreography and acting. My first work was Olla y Obitico, where I held one of the principal roles and danced solo. A year later I started to set up the choreography for a group called Afro Caribeño, which was no less than the alliance of popular dance and music raised up the level of a sophisticated Afro spectacle.

After 3 years as choreographer of Afro Caribeño, I began to dance in cabaret shows with a group called Panorama Antillano. Still later, I continued with my studies of our Yoruba religion.

I would like to have an interechange with people who are interested in helping to preserve our traditional AfroCuban culture, as in the languages of

  • Bantu
  • Carabali
  • Congo
  • Arara/Daome
  • Iyesa lands
  • Ganga
  • Haiti

We need this now that these traditions are being lost here in the Province of Matanzas, which is where there was the most settling of Afro culture. And for lack of communications we will lose more. This depends on you, my friends."

-- Danilo Perez Herera, Matanzas, August 1997

New Moon

Luna Nueva - New Moon
Ire Oba

A new group, formed by Danilito, shows much promise given the line up:

Danilito Perez director, choreographer
Danilito Perez Sr    percussion, formerly of Los Muñequitos
Lilian Oviedo Aldama dance, formerly of Afrocuba
Yurien Garcia Perez dance, sister of Sandy Perez
Clarita Noriega
voice, mother of Teresa Pollero of the Conjunto Folklorico
Odalis Fuente
Daniel Alfonso Herrera percussion, Los Tambores de Chacha
Omar Alfonso percussion, son of Jesus Alfonso, of Los Muñequitos



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