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Afro-Cuban Batá with Elizabeth Sayre

Workshop 12:30 - 3:30 pm (in the back studio) 

Cost is $10 – $25 (sliding scale); Under 12 yrs free; No one turned away for lack of funds. 

Drum Sundays are drumming workshops presented on the first Sunday of every month by Women Drummers International.


Afro-Cuban Bata for Beginning and Intermediate Players

The bata drums of Cuba are a beautiful, but sometimes hidden facet of the collective musical genius preserved and still developing in Afro-Cuban communities in Havana and Matanzas. The bata drums salute and praise the revered forces of nature known as orisha, as well as ancestor spirits, and are part of a living spiritual tradition. They have also over time become part of the national cultural heritage of Cuba.

The workshop will introduce just a bit of history (and herstory–crucial in the case of the bata for women students and players), correct posture and hand technique, several fundamental rhythms, and possibly some relevant orisha songs, depending on students’ interests and requests. Questions will be welcome throughout.

At least six months of hand drum study and knowledge of typical 6/8 bell patterns or clave are recommended, but not required, for this workshop, since the bata have their own hand technique (similar to congas and bongo, but also different) and require the constant development of listening skills. Students at a variety of levels are welcome: beginners will have a crash course in the bata; intermediates can try a drum or part they haven’t played before; advanced players can assist in demonstration.

Please bring bata drums (only bata, no other type of drum) and maracas (or a similar type of shaker with a handle and a clean action/sound; caxixi, for example, are not recommended because the sound is too diffuse). Some drums will be provided, and a sufficient amount of playing time will be guaranteed to all.

About Elizabeth Sayre: 
Elizabeth Sayre has been playing Afro-Cuban bata since 1994, and has studied with many masters of the form in the US and Cuba–her primary teachers were/are John Amira, Orlando Fiol, Lazaro Pedroso, and Amelia Pedroso. She has been accompanying Afro-Cuban folkloric dance class with master Cuban dancer-choreographers since 1999, and has worked in this capacity with former members of Yoruba Andabo, the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, Cutumba, Afro-Cuba de Matanzas, and Raices Profundas. She currently accompanies class and performs with Susana Arenas Pedroso in the Bay Area, and is a key force among women students and players of the Cuban bata drums in the U.S. In addition to the bata, she also plays congas and Brazilian percussion, aElizabeth has studied, played, taught, documented, written about, organized events around, and successfully sought funding for traditional arts and artists since 1997.

Earlier Event: February 5
Soul Sanctuary Dance
Later Event: February 5
Community Sing with Melanie DeMore