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At the Crossroads
Afro-Cuban Orisha Arts in Miami


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During the 1950s, Desi Arnaz introduced Americans to the Orisha deity Babaluaiyé in the television sitcom I Love Lucy. Since the 1960s, a Cuban-American popular culture has developed in Miami that continues to reflect the influence of the Orisha religion in music, dance, literature, and the visual arts.

In the realm of music, popular singer Willie Chirino has referred to the Orisha religion in several hit songs. In “Mr. Don’t Touch the Banana,” for example, he advises an unsuspecting visitor to an Orisha ceremony not to touch the bananas belonging to Shangó! Two dance groups in Miami, Ifé-Ilé and Iroko, teach and perform Afro-Cuban religious dance, as well as other traditional Cuban dance styles. The leaders of these two ensembles, Neri Torres and Elena Garcia, draw extensively on their knowledge of the Orisha tradition in their choreography for performances featuring popular singers. Torres has worked with Gloria Estefan for several years, while Garcia has collaborated with Albita Rodriguez.

Numerous painters and sculptors in Miami have found inspiration in the Orisha religion. Alberto del Pozo, now deceased, produced a well-known series of ink and crayon illustrations of the major orishas. Contemporary artists, such as Miguel Ordoqui, Raul Montero, Laura Luna, José Chiu, and Felix González Sanchez, create works that incorporate a wide range of Orisha motifs, symbols, and colors. These works, along with popular music and dance performances, help to transport the Orisha tradition from the religious community to the wider public of South Florida and beyond.

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Afro-Cuban Orisha Arts in Miami
The Afro-Cuban Orisha Religion | Orisha Worship in Miami
Orisha Artists | Beadwork | Paños | Garments | Thrones
Herramientas | Music | Ifá Paraphernalia
The Orisha Tradition in Popular Arts
Pantheon of Orishas

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