Afro-Cuban Music and Dance
Shawn Hennessey and Leana Song introduce the audience to the power and beauty of Afro-Cuban music and dance. Dressed in all white, the world renowned percussionists of Leana Song play traditional Batá drums, congas and cajons, bells and shekeres, all while singing ancient Yoruba songs to the Orishas. Leana Song engages students in Afro-Cuban music and culture through history, rhythm, dance, and song. Students will be on their feet during this rocking BatáRumba dance party!
Pennsylvania Curriculum Standards
(A=Assembly; W=Workshop; R=Residency)
9.1 Production, Performance and Exhibition of Dance, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts A, W, R
9.2 Historical and Cultural Contexts A, W, R
15.4 Learning Through Experience A, W, R
25.3 Pro-Social Relationships with Adults W, R
25.4 Pro-Social Relationships with Peers W, R
Art Form(s): Music, Dance
Genre: African/African-American, Latin/Brazilian
Instrument(s): Percussion, Dance, Voice
Video Residency Available
Assembly, Workshop, and Residency Offerings
Afro-Cuban Music and Dance Assembly
Shawn Hennessey and Leana Song introduce the audience to the power and beauty of Afro-Cuban music and dance. Dressed in all white, the world renowned percussionists of Leana Song play traditional Batá drums, congas and cajons, bells and shekeres, all while singing ancient Yoruba songs to the Orishas. As they roll through song cycles, rising and falling with intensely hypnotic grooves, the dancers enter, dressed as the specific Orisha the drummers are saluting. After a brief presentation of the history of Afro-Cuban music, Leana Song teaches the audience clapping patterns, and a Yoruba prayer-song. The percussion instruments are introduced and some volunteers get a chance to dance and drum for the finale, which is a rocking Batá Rumba dance party!
Best for: ELC • PreK-12 • Special Needs • After-School/Community
Afro-Cuban Music and Dance Workshop
Leana Song workshop in Afro-Cuban Music and Culture is a fun and inspiring way to learn about a beautiful culture through Dance Drum and Song. Traditional and folkloric music has long acted as a way of offering social advice to the young people of the community through the intertwined languages of drumming, dance and song. Group drumming is an artistic model for a community of individuals working towards a common goal. In this workshop, our goal will be to make people dance, smile, and remember the beauty of the human / soul connection we experience when we share in sacred sound. When we drum, we honor nature. We teach specific rhythms and songs for the ocean, for the wind, for herbal medicine, and for love. We learn new ways to celebrate the different elements that sustain us. The melodies I teach are mostly pentatonic, and the drum parts are simple, but transformative. These songs and rhythms are taught by rote, with a ‘hands-on’, ‘learning by doing’ approach.
Best for: 5-12 • Special Needs • After-School/Community
Afro-Cuban Music and Dance Residency
The Leana Song Residency in Afro-Cuban Music and Culture is designed to be an immersive inter-disciplinary classroom experience, exploring the intertwined languages of drumming, dance and song. Traditional and folkloric music and dance has long acted as a way of offering social advice to the young people of the community. In this modern world, communal experiences are few and far between. Ensemble drumming and singing is an artistic model for a community of individuals working towards a common goal.
The residency begins with an Assembly style performance, featuring members of Leana Song Drum and Dance Ensemble, playing high-energy, colorful and fun program, introducing the audience to some of the many rich Afro-Cuban artistic traditions, featuring Afro-Cuban songs and rhythms both spiritual and secular, folkloric and modern arrangements, and spectacular choreography.
During each week of the residency, students can work with the members of Leana Song to delve into the 3 interdependent art forms: Dance, Drumming, and Song.
Dance Section: Work with professional folkloric dancers; including: Ama Schley (Kulu Mele), Cachet (Kulu Mele), or Mora (Grupo Folklorica), to learn movements for a specific Orisha that the class decides. For instance, maybe the students want to learn about Yemaya, the ‘ocean goddess’, or Eleguá, the ‘trickster’. Once the Orisha is agreed upon, the drummers can start to learn the rhythms.
Drumming Section: Work with professional folkloric drummers and educators; including: Shawn Hennessey, Christian Nogera and Andres Cisneros (Timbalona), Dende Macedo (Timbalada), Pablo Batista (Alecia Keys), Wesley Rast.
Specific activities will include drumming technique, rhythmic games, body percussion, learning drum language, polyrhythms, clave and bell and shekere parts. ‘Singing while playing’ and improvisation is encouraged. Some of the rhythms we will study include Rumba, Palo, and Orisha Batá rhythms. We will also learn about these musics developed and their social functions. This program is sure to get hands grooving, blood pumping, and bodies jumping! Axé!
Singing Section: Work with Shawn Hennessey on Afro-Cuban Orisha Song in the Lucumí language: a Spanish and Yoruba potpourri of prayers and praise poems formed in Cuba. These songs are in call and response form. Students will have the chance to audition to be the lead singer (Akpón). Or decide to stay in a small section of singers (coro)
The Residency will end with a short final performance, in which the students put all 3 elements together, and have a nice closing Batarumba jam.
Best for: 6-8 • 9-12 • Special Needs • After-School/Community
Featuring: Leana Song
Shawn Hennessey (Ensemble Lead) is a Multi-Instrumentalist and World Percussionist, who has performed in Ghana, Istanbul, Haiti, Tahiti, and all over the United States. In Philadelphia, Shawn founded and is the director of Leana Song, an Afro-Cuban and Ghanaian drum and song ensemble performing original and traditional compositions. Shawn has received grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and The American Composers Forum to continue to study and teach world music. He is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and Emerson College and has more than 15 years’ experience working with diverse students of all ages. Shawn teaches world percussion at Germantown Friends School, and has been adjunct faculty at Temple University, Curtis School of Music, and The University of Pennsylvania.
Joined Musicopia: 2016