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Interview with Danys La Mora Perez: Santiago de Cuba

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Interview with Danys La Mora Perez

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Interview with Danys La Mora Perez: Santiago de Cuba
Additional title: Jerome Robbins Archive of the Recorded Moving Image original documentation
Perez, Danys (Interviewee)
Perez, Danys (Performer)
Dawson, C. Daniel (Interviewer)
Webb, Carolyn (Carolyn Jeannette) (Project director)
Niang, Mamadou (Videographer)
Mertz Gilmore Foundation (Presenter)
New York Public Library. Dance Division (Presenter)

African Dance Video Archive

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 2015-06-27
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDF 4121
Perez, Danys -- Interviews
Ballet Folklorico Cutumba
Yoruba (African people) -- Cuba
Dance -- Cuba
Music -- Cuba
Filmed dance
Filmed performances
Statement of responsibility: conducted by C. Daniel Dawson ; project director, Carolyn Webb.
Content: Widescreen.
Statement of responsibility: This interview was made possible by the cooperation of the Jerome Robbins Archive of the Recorded Moving Image, Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library.
Creation/production credits: Videographer, Mamadou Niang.
Performers: Interviewee, Danys "La Mora" Perez ; interviewer, C. Daniel Dawson ; musicians, Francisco Mora Catlett (Shekere), Maikel Castellanos Perez (Bara Drum (Lye)), Danys "La Mora" Perez (Shekere).
Venue: Videotaped during an interview at the Studio, New York, N.Y., as part of the Mertz Gilmore Foundation funded African Dance Interview Project 2015 June 27.
Funding: This recording was made possible by Mertz Gilmore Foundation.
Funding: African Dance Interview Project funded by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation.
Physical Description
Born digital
Extent: 1 video file (68 min.) : sound, color
Interview begins with a Cuban Bembé rhythm played by La Mora and Francisco Mora Catlett on shekere, and Maikel Castellanos Perez on the Iyá batá drum. C. Daniel Dawson (Danny) introduced Danys "La Mora" Perez as a dancer, choreographer, and ethnographer from Santiago de Cuba, in Oriente Province, who has a background in all of the African traditions of the island, including those of the Afro Haitians living in Santiago, and as a principal dancer with Ballet Folklórico Cutumba, in Cuba. She is the founder and artistic director of her own company, Oyu Oro Afro-Cuban Experimental Dance Ensemble, in New York City. She talks about how her love and curiosity for dance began; and the influences of the culture and musically of the vibrant communities. La Mora believes a dancer is born and discusses the different ways to learn dance; school, community, the street, but dance class is where you can focus on learning the craft. Neighbors who worked in professional companies and also danced in community festivals and events were among her early mentors. She examined her options on how to achieve a high standard of professional excellence once she made the decision to be a dancer. Initially, La Mora studied economics and wanted to be a lawyer, but the love for dance changed her mind. Her early dance experience included Casa De Culture, a cultural center in the community. The company director of Cutumba discovered La Mora at 13 years old dancing in a popular street festival, and invited her to study with the company. At 15 she was sent to the school's academy to learn the technique. Passion, commitment and determination helped her succeed professionally. She speaks about the beginning of her professional touring career with Cutumba in 1983, and the different dances in the repertory, which include influences from the Dahomey, Yoruba, Carabali, Abakuá, and Haitian cultures. She cites the strong contribution of the Orisha dances from the Yoruba people, talks about the eastern part of Cuba, and the importance of the Haitian influence to the culture; also discussed the Maypole dance and Tumba Francesca, a Haitian dance that imitates the 18th century French court. La Mora talks about the role and deep influence of Congolese culture in Cuba, becoming a choreographer, her first choreographic opportunity with Cutumba, and the Haitian origins of Merengue. La Mora praised the educational system of Cuba, learning the history of dance, technique, Cuban culture, and the contributions of Europe and Africa. How essential it is to study the origins and history of any cultural dance you are representing as well as the concepts behind the movement to avoid empty dance, and as a way to preserve the culture. La Mora finds a relationship, or "footprint" (root) between many different rhythms through the clave that they share. Cutumba, La Companiea, Folkloric Caribe, and AfroCuba de Matanzas are among the professional companies she has worked with. She moved to the USA in 2005 and created a company of the same name Cutumba, and shared company members with the mother company. La Mora acknowledged some of the great artists of Cuba; discusses her philosophy on the spirituality of life, and how it relates to the dance, song, and music; and how she presents the essence of cultural and religious based dances on the stage. Her New York company is celebrating its 10th year; her future plans are to continue to preserve, maintain, and expose the new generation to the history of Cuba. She talked about the Yoruba culture and explained the deities that represent the natural forces including Yemeya, Shango, Oshun, and Oya, and how the different aspects of nature that each deity represents affects the movement. She discusses the cultural trips she organized to Cuba. She speaks about the Congolese contribution (Bantu); about carnival festivities and speaks in detail about Palo, Yuka, and Macuta; the impact Haitian culture in Cuba has had in her life; and her positive teaching experience at Congo Square in New Orleans. La Mora mentions that people come to research preserved African cultures in Cuba, some that have been lost in Africa. La Mora expresses hope that the future political movements of the world don't change the beauty, magic, and the blessing of the Cuban culture and its traditions. She states that it is important for governments of all countries to maintain and preserve the culture of its people. La Mora ends the interview by stating that she cares about people, and can contribute to society and culture through dance and song; and to continue teaching with love.
Type of Resource
Moving image
RLIN/OCLC: 939530996
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20892439
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 1c409a10-c461-0133-c5eb-00505686d14e
Rights Statement
This item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Item timeline of events

  • 2015: Created
  • 2016: Digitized
  • 2024: Found by you!
  • 2025

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Danys La Mora Perez" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2015.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Danys La Mora Perez" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 21, 2024.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2015). Interview with Danys La Mora Perez Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Interview with Danys La Mora Perez, (2015)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=June 21, 2024 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Danys La Mora Perez