Friday, March 30, 2018

Documentary Film About 'Harlem in Havana' Spotlights Afro Cuban Inspired Artists

Dancer and Choreographer
 Andrea Woods Valdés
DURHAM, N.C. - March 30, 2018 - PRLog -- Although the best talent from Cuba has long been forgotten in the states, Afro Cuban culture still has a strong hold on American entertainers. Today, many U.S. performance troupes incorporate blends of Latin, African and European cultures into their repertoires, but there is still much to be discovered about how the Afro Cuban craze landed and took root in American soil.

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 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. Read more.