Created by Leslie Cunningham in 2012, The Harlem in Havana Project is an educational multimedia work that honors one of America's most successful traveling shows and its producer, Leon Claxton, the brave African American impresario who pioneered Black entertainment during the era of Jim Crow.
A celebration of our multi-faceted past, this project aims to revive Harlem in Havana's rich entertainment history. Harlem in Havana was the place where the future heavyweights of Black and Cuban entertainment birthed new music, dance and comedy in front of mainstream audiences. Back then it was a “colored” variety show with performance pieces. Today, those performance pieces are art forms. This is where that history originated!
The documentary project work includes:
- Feature documentary film JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havana
- Burlesque Education Series
- Brown-Skin Showgirls photography books and exhibits
- Harlem in Havana Vintage Collector’s magazine
- A website home harleminhavana.com
This project has cultural and social relevance because it teaches us more about African American and Afro-Cuban entertainment history, and its mark on American culture today. The work provides an opportunity for artists and performers to tap into this history and enhance their current art forms.