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Alliance Fraçaise in Santiago de Cuba
Alliance Française
congas arriving by motorcycle cab
Special delivery
Street performance by Group Folkloyuma
Street performance by Group Folkloyuma
Casa particular
Children's carnaval
Children's carnaval
conga insruction
Let me get that...
Afrocuban dance class
Afrocuban dance class
Orchestra rehearsal
Drum recital
Drum recital
Band rehearsal
Band rehearsal
Afrocuban percussion
Afrocuban percussion
Dinner celebration
Dinner celebration
Ritmacuba comparsa arrives!
Ritmacuba comparsa arrives!
Rumba at Artex
Rumba at Artex
La Conga de Los Hoyos
La Conga de Los Hoyos
Music and Dance classes in Santiago de Cuba
– July 2011 –
Ritmacuba has been organizing programs in the music, dance and culture of Cuba since 1989. More than just courses, Ritmacuba offers a chance to immerse yourself in the culture and life of the city of Santiago de Cuba. Your contact with teachers, musicians and dancers will allow you to establish a rapport with Cuban people on the best possible basis. Ritmacuba offers an extremely flexible program that you can adapt to your needs with up to four classes a day, plus a very special opportunity to participate in Santiago's biggest annual event, carnaval, as official invitees of the city! Comfortable accommodation in a casa particular (private home) will be arranged for you and will include breakfast. Cuban box lunches are also included and will be served at the Alliance Française where all of the courses will be given. The accommodations we arrange are within walking distance of the Alliance française in the neighbourhood of Reparto Vista Alegre for your convenience.
Ritmacuba participants before the judges at Carnaval

Each year's program is unique and each year a number of not-to-be missed activities complementing the courses are arranged for the group with special emphasis on carnaval. Examples from previous years are a neighbourhood rumba/street party, a visit to a rehearsal of the oldest conga comparsa group in Santiago, the Conga de los Hoyos, a chance to dance along in the “Invasion of the Congas” pre-carnaval, a day at a beach (with music) and special concerts. In 2010, some of the activities included a day trip to Guantanamo to take in some changuï and a concert by the only steel band in Cuba. Other years included a visit to the shrine of the Virgin of Charity, (patron saint of Cuba and Ochún in the santeria religion), in the mountain village of El Cobre outside Santiago and a day at a local beach off the beaten path complete with pig roast. And of course, there are lots of places to go out at night, dance and maybe even sit in with the band, places like Casa de la Trova, Casa de la Musica, Casa de las Tradiciones, Los Dos Abuelos, Artex, and during Carnaval, the streets!

The band's final workshop Galibata performs for Ritmacuba

What are the details on cost and dates?

If you are interested in joining the 2011 trip please email me, Joyce Humbert at
jh-canada@ritmacuba.com for a registration form and detailed cost schedule.

March 22nd update: space is limited and airfares have been steadily rising.
The price information below is based on current exchange rates and flight prices and is subject to change.

Dates – July 11-25, 2011
Price – $2,041 CDN (program, lodging + return air Toronto-Santiago and taxes included)*
Option : you may arrange own flight and request accommodation for different dates but for the program you must be in Santiago from the 11th until the morning of the 23rd.

The price above includes return airfare from Toronto, classes, group events and concerts, lodging, breakfast and lunches. Dinners are not included. They can often be arranged at the home where you are staying for a modest price. Some of the homes have kitchen facilities you can use to cook your own. There are also several restaurants and cafés in the neighbourhood ranging from cheap to pricey.

*price subject to change. Cuban exit visa of 25 CUC not included

Download PDF for more detailed information

What classes are offered?

~ All instruments, percussion (Afro Cuban and popular) and voice

~ Salsa/casino rueda and Afro Cuban dance

~ Option for all participants: Formation of a comparsa (group) in the local style, conga oriental, with corneta china (Chinese trumpet), singing, percussion and dance that will parade before the public and judges at Santiago's carnaval. The 2010 group were popular with the public and won special mention from the jury! The comparsa will rehearse after classes in the afternoon.

On the last day, all classes will perform what they have learned and the orchestra students will give a concert open to the general public at the Alliance Française as part of their cultural programming.

Course details

The teachers and assistants are Cubans who have earned recognition in their field. They are chosen for their competence and teaching experience with foreign students. They are professional musicians, dancers and/or teachers who belong to or lead traditional groups or companies.

Please note: The teachers speak Spanish and/or French; a few may speak some English.

• Dance

Cuban salsa – 3 levels

Casino rueda – intermediate and advanced

Popular Cuban dance – son, cha-cha-cha, pilón, comparsa, 3 levels

Afro-Cuban dance – Orisha dances, rumba, cuban-franco-haitian styles of Oriente, conga, all levels. Course accompanied by local percussionists.

• Percussion

Popular Cuban percussion – bolero, son, cha cha cha, pilón, mozambique, comparsa, etc. for congas, bongos and small percussion. 2 levels

Afro-Cuban and batá – 2 courses at different times with different material. Batá drums; bembé, congo, afro-cuban-haitian styles on hand drums and bells

Rumba – cajón and congas

• Various instruments (and percussion)

Son/salsa orchestra – the format of the orchestra and the arrangements will depend on the level of students who enrol and the instruments they play.

Singing popular Cuban repertoire (Spanish) and Afro (yoruba-lucumi, congo, créole). The songs correspond to the styles studied in the dance classes (especially afro-cuban dance), the orchestra and percussion classes. The courses can help towards the improvement of language skills. Percussionists may sing and accompany themselves. Two group classes are offered, one for the Afro-Cuban material, orisha chants, rumba, etc. and the other as preparation for the orchestra (soloists and chorus) Individual singing instruction is also offered in repertoire or improvisation.

Individual lessons – piano, tres, guitar, flute, violin, bass, saxophone, corneta china, trombone, trumpet, bongos, timbales, rumba cajón. For other instruments, please contact us.

Who is Ritmacuba?

Ritmacuba is the name given to the summer program and the website run by ACI Transrythmes, a cultural organization housed in the Université de Paris at Saint-Denis. ACI Transrythmes was founded in the 1980s by a group of students, professors and other staff members of the Université de Paris 8 to carry on the work started by Raul Zequeira, a Cuban musician who moved to Paris in the 1950s and gave courses and workshops at the Université de Paris 8 in the Music Department. It was his vision to organize not just classes in Cuba but cultural immersion trips for percussion students. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could do this but ACI Transrythmes took on the project and organized the first trip in 1989 to Matanzas, Cuba. Daniel Chatelain, author, sound engineer, researcher and member of la Société Française d'Ethnomusicologie gave the program the ritmacuba name. He was elected president of the Association in 1990 and led a unique program combining dance, percussion and capoeira in Brazil. He moved the ritmacuba program to Santiago de Cuba in 1991 and is still using his many years of experience as president and organizer to create an exceptional program of learning and cultural exchange.

The majority of the participants have always been from France, but throughout the years there have also been numerous participants from a large number of other countries including Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Reunion Island, Guadeloupe, Australia, Argentina, Colombia, Canada, Norway and others.

Ritmacuba has 110 videos on YouTube, 80 of which are from previous ritmacuba summer programs. Be sure to check out their channel: www.youtube.com/user/ritmacuba

They also have photo albums online at picasaweb.google.com/ritmacuba

You can explore their France-based site at www.ritmacuba.com

Ritmacuba's Canadian representative, Joyce Corbett Humbert

It is with great pleasure that I represent Ritmacuba in Canada. Music and dance of various styles and origins have always been an important part of my life. At some point along the way, I became a jazz afficionado, ventured into Latin jazz and ended up exploring Cuban music and that led to a week in Havana for the Jazz Festival in 2004. Since then I have had many other wonderful musical (and non-musical) experiences in Cuba. I have now been playing congas and studying percussion for several years. In Toronto, the city where I live, we are fortunate to have some great teachers of Cuban music and dance. But, I think that if you are going to play the music or dance the dances of any country, you must eventually experience it in context, in its country of origin.

In 2008, I was searching the web for percussion courses in Cuba, something more than just a week. I came upon the Ritmacuba website and decided to take the 14-day trip. The experience was everything I had hoped for and more. I learned a lot, had a lot of fun and met a lot of great people among the participants in the program, teachers, musicians, supporting personnel and more. I returned in 2009 and now, I am really looking forward to this July in Santiago!

Ritmacuba offers a great learning experience and an amazing opportunity to be part of Carnaval! That is truly a blast!

Singing Yemaya Afrocuban dance class
Group Impacto Casino dances in the street Streets in reparto Sueño, Santiago
(with ambiant music)

© Ritmacuba 2010