Winner of the 2018 Knight Arts Challenge!

I’m thrilled that my project, #AfroOchoDance, has been selected as a winner of the 2018 Knight Challenge, on the 10th Anniversary since this funding project was launched “to help Miamians bring artistic ideas to life.” A project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Knight Arts Challenge funds “the best ideas for bringing South Florida together through the arts.” We will receive $25,000 for the grant through a fiscal sponsor, The Miami Foundation, but we need to raise $25,000 in matching funds!

This project is aimed at building awareness and appreciation for the cultural and historical contributions of Afro-Cubans, Afro-Latinos and others of African descent. It also deepens awareness of the murals, monuments and public spaces of Miami’s iconic Little Havana neighborhood.

#AfroOchoDance is an eight-day series of “pop-up” Afro-Cuban folkloric dance performances, each with an original and site-specific choreography, which will take place in the public spaces of Little Havana’s popular heritage district. Little Havana resident and nationally recognized choreographer Marisol Blanco and her Sikan Afro-Cuban Dance Project will perform the series in from Sept. 21 to 28, 2018, during Hispanic Heritage Month, and from Feb. 15 to 22, 2019, during Black History month. Each performance will also commemorate particular Afro-Cubans, Afro-Latinos and African-Americans connected to Little Havana’s own history.

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These performances will be documented and shared via social media and, where people can find details about the people being commemorated, the dance forms (rumba, chancleta, Tumba Francesa, Orisha, palo, makuta, etc.),  the dancers and others involved in #AfroOchoDance, and funders/sponsors.

Marisol Blanco, the lead choreographer, studied dance at the prestigious Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana and taught and choreographed dance at Cuba’s Escuela Nacional de Arte. As a dancer and percussionist with Obbini Bata, Cuba’s first all-female dance and percussion group, Blanco performed in Havana’s most famous venues.  In 2008, she left Cuba for Miami and began teaching Afro-Cuban dance; she also formed her own dance company, Sikan.

Find out more and please help us raise $25,000 in matching funds for this exciting project!



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