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JIG SHOW Production in Durham!
Documentary Film About 'Harlem in Havana' Spotlights local Afro Cuban Inspired Artists
Later on this year, the long-awaited documentary film JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havana by producer and director Leslie Cunningham, will shine a light on this rich history. This weekend, Cunningham teams up with cinematographer Kelly Creedon in Durham, NC to conduct some of the final interviews for the film. Lined up are two powerhouse academics, dancer and choreographer Andrea Woods Valdés and Afro Cuban artist and writer Dr. Joan Francisco Valdés Santos.
JIG SHOW is the story of 'Harlem in Havana', one of America's most successful traveling shows that birthed music icons, broke carnival records and significantly influenced Black and Latin entertainment during the Jim Crow era. The film also unearths the legend of African American showman Leon Claxton, a world-renowned impresario whose vision, passion and determination produced a multicultural stage show that still resonates with wonder today.
Arguably the hallmark girl show revue in North America, Claxton's popular midway attraction introduced a chorus-line of brown skin showgirls performing exotic, rumba, salsa and calypso dances. The film considers Claxton's work in pre- and post-revolution Cuba- maneuvering government and working closely with Cuban officials and nationals, such as the first recorded Santeria singer Mercedes Valdés' and Cuban dance troupe, The Cuban Dancing Dolls, who traveled and performed early salsa and rumba on Claxton's show before the revolution. Claxton not only presented dance troupes from Havana, Cuba, he discovered new talent all over the Caribbean, including Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad where the merengue dance was born.
Andrea E. Woods Valdés is an associate professor at Duke University, former dancer and rehearsal director of Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Co. (1989-1995) and Artistic Director of SOULOWORKS/Andrea E. Woods & Dancers, a modern dance company with a mission to create works using African American folklore in performance. Her field of research is Afro Cuban folklore from a dance perspective/
Originally from Havana, Cuba, Dr. Joan Francisco Valdés Santos is an artist, scholar, prolific writer, composer and journalist who has produced works for several radio and television programs in Cuba and his work was published in the Hispanic Pan-American Anthology of Ovanz, 2006. His most recent poetry publication is titled Donde riena el amor y la esperanza/Where Love and Hope Reign (Souloworks Press) 2012. Dr. Santos Valdés will bring his critical perspective on Afro-Cuban history, its impact on American culture, and the strong alliances among Black Americans and Cubans, like 'Harlem in Havana' that took place before The Cuban Revolution of 1959, a formation often denied today.
Ultimately a celebration of our multi-faceted past, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havana hopes to engage African Americans, Latinos and other communities of color who have been underserved in media, and create a path for the descendants of African-Americans and Latinos to reflect, embrace, and liberate their own stories from historical amnesia.
Page Updated Last on: Mar 31, 2018