Monday, March 26, 2012

La calle es un animal! Omni-Zona Franca @ Baruch College

If you happen to live in any of the cities remaining on Omni's first-ever U.S. tour (three shows this week in NYC; Friday in Providence, RI; Washington, DC, April 1-10; New Orleans, April 11-30; and Miami in May), I urge you to check them out. Their show is sure to blow your mind with a sampling of the little known world of independent Cuban art, music, and poetry.

Last Friday night, March 23, they presented an amazingly original and moving show at Baruch College that was enthusiastically received by the diverse audience of students and guests from across the NY metro region. It included a seamless flood of evocative, provocative images; powerful poetic expression; percussive sound made on three ancient Cuban typewriters; ecstatic dance and movement; and their own special brand of hip hop they call "free hop."

The three members of the group, Luis Eligio D'Omni, Amaury Pacheco, and David D'Omni, use a poetic, performative, artistic language, in a spirit of the search for truth, engagement with the public, and open dialogue very different from the overheated polemics we are used to hearing about Cuba.  As Rolando Pulido writes in Spanish here, they bring much light to the public without any of the heat and hate we often find accompanying Cuban issues.

After seeing them perform first-hand myself and having the opportunity to talk with them for hours on end during our treks around Manhattan, I'd say that to approximate their unique style and sensibility you'd have to take the social and political edge of the 90s-era hip-hop group Public Enemy, mix it with the selfless, communitarian spirituality of Gandhi, throw in the artistic sensibility of Basquiat and Yoko Ono, add the digital-experimental fusion of musicians like Moby and Bjork, along with the rooted, liberationist vibe of Bob Marley, and the soundscapes of Bobby McFerrin, and top that off with the poetic linguistic sensitivity of Cuba's Lezama Lima, and the fierce and fantasmagorical creative reinvention of Reinaldo Arenas...

Talk about multi-disciplinary!

For a few brief previews of their current show, "Mákina Total City," take a look at these three clips/video montages from Friday night's show and one rehearsal on Thursday (2 minutes each above and 9 minutes here below).

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