According to The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the festival event celebrates the cultural diversity of New Orleans and the melting pot of traditions that gave rise to the city’s unique music. Featured in the festival are the music and dance of Africa, the Caribbean, the American Gulf South and beyond in this two-day, family-friendly festival.
And what an honor it is that the Bronx will be representing the diversity of our great City of New York in such an important cultural festival.
A drummer for Bombazo, Elena Marrero —a retired New York City public school teacher and affectionately known as ‘Mamarazzi’ due to her always carrying her camera and shooting pictures —is very excited.
Marrero, who started taking Bomba and drumming lessons five years ago at age 60, was spotted by Milteri at several events and was invited to drum for the dance company. Since that time Elena, who’s lived in the Bronx since 1996, has performed with Bombazo at Alvin Ailey, and at Pregones Theatre right here in the Bronx.
Marrero says she’s, “Ecstatic and honored to represent NYC and bomba culture at the World Rhythm Festival at Congo Square.”
But in order to get there, they need our help.
The 22 member Bombazo Dance Company needs to raise $6,000 by March 2nd so that they can perform at the Congo Square Rythms Festival from March 22nd through the 23rd of this year. So far they have raised $1,090 on Go Fund Me.
Check out our interview with Bombazo founder, Milteri Tucker Concepción below and learn more about the dance company as well as the event.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in San Juan Puerto Rico and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
How long have you lived in the Bronx?
I moved to New York, fresh from high school in 2000. I’ve been a Bronx resident for 14 years.
Where did you get your professional training?
I’ve been involved in the arts since I was about 6 years old in Puerto Rico.
Seriously started training in dance and voice at the performing arts school in Ponce: Bellas Artes. I’m a classically trained dancer: ballet, ( pointe work) strong technique in Lyrical, Jazz. Also studied Puerto Rican folk dances (Bomba, Plena, Seis, Danza), coupled with Flamenco.
I moved to NYC to study dance and continued my training in other forms such as modern dance, theater, contemporary, hip hop, Afro Caribbean and Latin dances.
I have my Degrees from Hunter College in Dance, and Biology. Been working professionally in dance since I graduated, as a performer, emerging choreographer and dance educator.
When and Why did you start Bombazo?
I’ve been working on my own choreography for little over 9 years as an independent artist, but I formally started Bombazo four years ago. I am not only a Bomba dancer but a ballet and theater/jazz dancer etc.
I found my voice and become a unique performer in the NYC dance community, by bringing it back to my roots. Bombazo Dancers mirror who I am. They all have a strong dance technique and can take it back to our roots.
Today, Bombazo is growing into an organization, where we not only create a new dance vocabulary with our fusions, but maintain traditional folkloric dances such as Bomba alive for future generations. We do this by giving Bomba Dance workshops, drumming workshops, community Bombazos, lecture demonstrations.
How many people are in your company?
We are currently 25 members.
How can someone become part of Bombazo?
Every one in the company has auditioned. I also have worked and choreographed for the Bronx community in collaboration with other organizations, where those interested have participated in events as community dancers.
Do you offer classes and if so, what type and where do you offer them?
Every Spring I offer a free dance workshops for the Bronx Community in different dance genres, including Bomba Dance. Currently I am giving affordable Bomba dance classes every Sunday at BAAD.
We understand that you make your own skirts for your performances as well as make them for sale. What are they called? How can customers get in touch with you if they want to place an order?
Yes, my skirt line is called BOMBAZO WEAR by Milteri® Customers can visit our website: www.bombazodanceco.com and click on the tab that says Bombazo WEAR and or they can email at email@example.com
Tell us more about New Orleans and how Bombazo ended up being the only group from New York City to be invited.
I have roots in New Orleans. That was my father’s birth place before he moved to Puerto Rico. I attended and performed at conferences, where the arts community in New Orleans have seen my choreography and work with Bombazo. I am humbled and very excited that Bombazo Dance Co was invited to perform at the festival and honored to be the first Bronx based company to represent and perform in my second home!
For the first time Traditional Bomba will be seen! I’m excited to share a part of me and my culture with the New Orleans Congo Sq. Community.
Where have you or Bombazo performed?
As a performer I’ve been blessed to have performed in so many great venues in NYC and the tri-state Area. Some highlights are: as Josephine Baker, Tribute to the First Diva at Macy’s Herald Square, Easter Bonnet at the Minksoff Theater on Broadway and recently at the Latin Billboards as a highlighted dancer for Don Omar.
Bombazo Dance Co has performed at Lincoln Center, Summer Stage, Alvin Ailey Citi Group Theater, Pregones Theater, BAAD, Casita Maria center for Arts Education, At the Bronx County Courthouse where Honorable Ruben Diaz Jr. gave the company a proclamation.
We showcased for the first time Bomba at the New York International Salsa Congress, been featured on Bronx Net’s Open with Rhina Valentin and performed at the Puerto Rican Day Parade, Hispanic Day Parade and Three Kings Day parade hosted by El Museo Del Barrio.
Where do you see yourself and Bombazo in 5 years?
I see myself continuing my legacy and sharing my voice with the community at large as a performer, choreographer and dance educator. Bombazo Dance Co will continue to grow, collaborating with artists to create and present unique productions, while maintaining traditions alive through workshops for future generations.
Presently, I would like to invite the Bronx Community to participate of our fundraiser event titled: Bombazo in the Bronx!™
To make a donation, please go to: http://www.gofundme.com/3seb74
Check out Bombazo performing Leró, an original company production: