The staging of De Rompe y Raja Cultural Association's Son de los Diablos at the Ethnic Dance Festival earlier this year involved intense, exacting costumes, full-out musical theater production, live music, incredible choreography, and a twisty narrative; the result is beautiful, funny, and absorbing. But none of that explains why the historical dance, abandoned in the 1940s in its original Peru, was chosen by the forward-thinking Bay Area dance/percussion company. The explanation is fascinating: Basically, Son de los Diablos was a festival dance developed during slavery, when Spaniards were "good" and Africans, "devilish." The dance was revived in 2004 as a tribute to the end of slavery, after which the dance was reclaimed as a victory for Afro-Peruvians. It's a perfect example of the performances to be found at the Cuba Caribe Festival, many of them rich in history and cross-cultural inspirations. De Rompe y Raja performs this evening; the group may stage a complicated show like Diablos, or it may simply fill the stage with a roar of traditional Afro-Peruvian percussion, often played on milk-crate-sized boxes the performers sit on and play at the same time.
Program B starts at 8 p.m.
April 17-May 3, 2009