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Schedule: 2003

Obini Ashe

A 17-member international all female ensemble doing vocal, dance and drumming performances and dedicated to the celebration of the feminine in Afro-Cuban traditions.

Obini Ashé ("the power of women"), under the direction of Lisa Maria Salb, honors the female deities and the unsung women of Afro-Cuban spiritual and cultural traditions. This 17-member all-female ensemble will present a program of pulsating and soul-possessing music and dance that includes the Lucumí orishas, rumbas, the makuta social dance of Congo origin, and the festive Comparsa de Carnaval. The program features the fiery dancing of Susana Arenas Pedroso, from Raices Profundas, and choreography by Yamile Malagón, formerly of the Conjunto Folclorico Nacional de Cuba. Special guest Reynaldo Gonzalez, from AfroCuba de Matanzas.



Schedule (updated 11/03)


Sat., November 15, 2003: Painted Bride Arts Center, Philadelphia 8 pm


Sat., December 6: Symphony Space Theater (World Music Institute), NYC 8 pm



Final 2002 Performance at Historic St. Marks Church, New York on 9/25/02.

Lisa Maria Salb directs this vocal, dance and drumming performance by an 18-member international all female ensemble, dedicated to the celebration of the feminine in Afro-Cuban traditions. 

Traditionally, women have taken a back seat in the Afro-Cuban traditions most linked to music. Though there have been several legendary female singers and dancers, it has nonetheless been an area of the culture that has been dominated by men; it was even often deemed irreverent for women to dance certain rhythms and to play certain drums. Obini Ashé is the first production of its kind worldwide and has already garnered so much acclaim that the first three performances were completely sold out, the last two at St. Marks Church in the East Village. 

The final performance for this year will again take place at St. Marks Church, 131 East 10th Street (at 2nd Ave. in the East Village), on Wednesday, September 25, 2002 at 8:30 PM. Tickets are $15 cash only at the door.

Part one opens with Eleguá (the divine trickster and Orisha of the crossroads) and is then devoted to the female deities of the Afro-Cuban culture, continuing with Oshún (goddess of sweet waters and love) choreographed by Yamilé Malagón, former principal of the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional of Cuba, Iya Modupué honoring all mothers, Oyá (warrior goddess of the winds and gatekeeper of the cemetery) also choreographed by Malagón, Obba (official wife of Chango and symbol of fidelity) and Yemayá (sacred mother of the Orishas, the oceans and rivers, the source of all life) choreographed by Regina Iyaleo. The last three pieces feature percussion director Elizabeth Sayre and the ensemble on Bata drums.

Obini Ashé is also dedicated to the memory of the great women artists of Afro-Cuban music and dance; who by teaching us directly and indirectly through their legacies, have made it possible for us to share their tradition with a worldwide audience: especially Andrea Baró, Nieves Fresneda, Celeste Mendoza, Amelia Pedroso, Librada Quesada, Margarita Ugarte, Ana Luisa Caceres and Merceditas Valdes.

The second part of the performance explores the colorful and festive, yet profound, street culture of the Afro-Cuban tradition. Beginning with Makuta of Bantú (Congo) origin, a social dance with sacred overtones, and ending with the traditional Comparsa de Carnaval, requiring the participation of a much delighted audience. In between, the Rumba - Yambú, Guaguancó and Columbia - is presented through song, drumming and dance and includes original works by Lisa Maria Salb (Las Obini de Ashé) and Puerto Rican singer Maribel Garcia-Soto (Inspiracion Para Amelita).

For more information about Obini Ashé contact:


scroll down for bio of Stephanie Nix, a member of this group

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