This hour-long documentary is most memorable for the lively, fast-paced performances of the dancers of the California-based group, Te Mana 'O Te Ra. Te Mana 'O Te Ra have performed throughout the United States as well as in Hawaii and Tahiti.
All numbers are accompanied by live music under the leadership of Rey Aguilar; the dancers are directed by his wife, Lisa Aguilar. In addition, the documentary features a section of performance by the Tahitian group from Hawaii's Polynesian Cultural Center - not to be missed!
In addition to the dance and music, we interview the Aguilars and also, through narration, provide some history of both Tahiti and its music and dance tradition. These are illustrated with photographs, period lithographs, and the like.OR purchase on DVD with PayPal:
"...an intimate portrait of ... master musicians.... Highly recommended." (C. Block for Video Librarian)
"...the energy...is palpable....a fine choice...." (Barbara J. Waters for EMRO (Educational Media On-Line))
Masters of Rhythm with addendum, which has screened in eight countries on four continents and won awards in both the USA and Germany, is my second documentary about Afro-Peruvians. A natural outgrowth of my earlier A Zest for Life (see above), it not only gives us lively music (including two original compositions) but shows off the fancy footwork dance form, Afro-Peruvian zapateo.
Whether you purchase the physical DVD, or download or rent it on-line, in addition to the 30 minute documentary you get several interesting Extras. In one, Juan de Dios Soto cooks a special Afro-Peruvian dish called carapulcra. In another, Lalo Izquierdo explains more about how zapateo was performed in the "old days" when it was even more complex and demanding than today. And there are more....
"...a vivid demonstration...that...Afro-Peruvian music and culture [are] ... exciting and dynamic...." (Wayne Wallace, 3 times Grammy nominated jazz trombonist)
"...satisfying...good educational tool..." (Troy Bedford for Anthropology Review)
My first documentary about Afro-Peruvians, it focuses on the dance, and the history of the Afro-Peruvian community. One hour long, it screened in four festivals, was runner-up for the prize of Best Documentary in the San Diego Black Film Festival, and was broadcast over several PBS stations.
A Zest for Life stars Lalo Izquierdo, also one of the principals in Masters of Rhythm; in fact, it was Izquierdo's talent, chrisma, and knoweldge of the history and culture of his community, and willingness to participate in another project which led me to make additional trips to Peru to film Masters of Rhythm. In A Zest for Life, Izquierdo is ably complimented by singer-songwriter Jorge Luis Jasso, by bassist Vladimir Vukanovich, by the performing group de Rompe y Raja, and others.OR purchase on DVD with PayPal:
"...visually pleasing, informative and entertaining.... Recommended." (J. Reed for Video Librarian)
"The footwork is fast, and the costumes, beautiful...." (Multicultural Review)
Focused on southern Indian classical bharatanatyam dance and music, this hour-long documentary includes mostly performance and interviews. The performers come from a group called "Kalanjali: Dances of India" which maintains performers in India, in the city of Chennai, and a dance academy in the USA, in Berkeley.
The group performers come from the dance academy and is composed mostly of young women from the Indian diaspora. The solo dancer, K.P. Yeshoda, and the musicians come from India but traveled to California to join us in the studio. Kalanjali's directors are the primary interview subjects: K.P. Kunhiraman (now deceased), a master of both bharatanatyam and kathakali, along with Katherine Kunhiraman, who specialized in bharatanatyam. Both trained in the Kalakshetra Academy in Chennai.OR purchase on DVD with PayPal: