About El Viaje (The Journey)
On June 25 and 26, 2016 international percussion master, Temple Alum (’86) and Philadelphia resident Pablo Batista will present the world premiere performances of El Viaje (The Journey), his extended work in music and dance.
Generously supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and co-sponsored by Boyer College of Music and Dance and Taller Puertorriqueno, El Viaje (The Journey) tells the story of forced emigration from Africa to the Americas, and how spiritual and cultural resilience ultimately enabled slaves to adapt and re-establish themselves with dignity in diaspora.
The performances feature 16 musicians, 6 dancers, spoken word and multi-media imagery.
Created in collaboration with co-writer/arrangers Dennis Guevara and Victor Pablo, and Cuban choreographer Gilset Mora, El Viaje combines sacred Afro-Caribbean bata drumming, chant and traditional dance with elements from European classical music, jazz and blues, R & B, funk and salsa. It reflects the journey of captive African cultures as they were blended and transformed over five centuries.
Musically, the work also reflects Pablo Batista’s 30 years of touring, recording and performing on Grammy-winning releases in jazz, rhythm and blues and gospel.
Origins and Development
El Viaje has been in development for three years, but has its origins over 15 years ago. In 2000, Pablo Batista received the prestigious Pew Fellowship from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, which enabled him to deepen his knowledge of Afro-Cuban drumming at the source in Cuba. Other study trips followed. In 2012 he traveled to Santiago de Cuba, where he studied with members of Ballet Folklórico Cutumba, one of Cuba’s most highly regarded folkloric dance and music companies.
In 2013, Batista won a jazz residency at The Kimmel Center, and was commissioned to develop what became “The Journey.” It premiered there as a work-in-progress in June 2014. June 2015, Batista received a new project grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage to expand and present the completed work of El Viaje (The Journey) for Philadelphia audiences. Along with that, Boyer generosity is enabling El Viaje to come to the TPAC stage in June