Afro Cuban Experimental Dance Ensemble
New York / Santiago de Cuba
Oyu Oro is the brainchild of Danys "La Mora" Pérez ─ international Afro-Cuban folklore performer, choreographer, teacher and dance ethnologist from Santiago de Cuba. The company is committed to the preservation of Afro-Cuban folklore as well as to encouraging the cross-cultural understanding of the dance and music forms derived from African culture. While Oyu Oro’s traditional repertoire pays tribute to African lineages derived from the Yoruba, Congo, Carabali, Arará and Dahomean cultures of West Africa and Haiti, the popular dance choreographies also celebrate the national Cuban heritage.
In February 2007, Oyu Oro presented the world premiere of "Palenque," an epic poem in Afro-Cuban folklore and the company's first evening length work, at La Mama Annex Stage. La Mora assembled a gathering of seasoned Afro-Cuban artists in America, including 20-plus New York-based dancers, vocalists and musicians. This unprecedented two-week event was greeted with rave reviews and sold-out audiences. Since then, Oyu Oro has been one of the key members of the artist rosters represented by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, and has premiered and performed numerous presentations, which include Dance Africa, Heritage Sunday at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out, the Chase Latino Cultural Festival at Queens, Ailey Citigroup Theater, New Orleans Dance Festival, Harlem Havana Festival, Flint Hills International Children's Festival at the Ordway Theater , WOFABE African Dance & Drum Festival, "World City" Series at Music Center of LA , Houston International Festival, Baruch Performing Arts Center, Rutgers University, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Queens, CubaCaribe Dance and Music Festival in San Francisco, Aaron Davis Hall, Schaumburg Center and Harlem School of Arts as well as Teatro Mella and several dance and cultural festivals in CUBA.
Since 2010, Oyu Oro has also been running the Dos Aguas Dance Program, a comprehensive dance and cultural study program for Americans and others to research in Cuba.
Oyu Oro aspires to create work that will serve as an informational tool for the researchers in the academic field as well as a source of enjoyment for audiences of all ages and multicultural backgrounds who seek a greater development of "art among people.”
Founder /Artistic Director/ Choreographer
Originally from Santiago de Cuba, Danys "La Mora" Pérez Prades is an internationally renowned master of Afro-Cuban folkloric dance. Pérez is an expert dancer, teacher, dance ethnologist and choreographer specializing in all the unique styles of Afro-Cuban Culture and of her native region of the Oriente province in Eastern Cuba, a region whose cultural richness is attributable to its infusion of Afro-Haitian influences to an already vibrant Afro-Cuban context. Pérez began her dance training at an early age with Afro-Cuban and Afro-Haitian dance ensembles. At 13, she was asked to join the renowned national folkloric ballet company, Cutumba, with which she toured internationally with the company for 18 years.
In 1994, she was evaluated and granted the highest possible designations of primera bailarina and primera profesora by the National Dance Commission in Cuba. Since then, she has taught extensively outside of Cuba -- in Italy, Spain, France, Canada and the United States. While still dancing with Cutumba, she founded her own dance company, Adiro Omode, for children ages 4 to 15 in Santiago de Cuba. Adiro Omode has trained internationally acclaimed professional dancers, many of whom are currently working with world-renowned companies such as Cutumba and Folklorico Nacional de Oriente. In 1998, Pérez became the founder of another dance company in Santiago, the original Oyu Oro, composed of professional and amateur dancers.
Since her first visit to the States in 1996, she has taught at numerous institutions of higher education such as Brown University, Cornell University, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Williams College, the University of New Mexico, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and Flint, Marygrove College, and Tulane University.
In addition, she was invited by the legendary Katherine Dunham to participate in her prestigious East Saint Louis seminars. This dance icon's invitation to Wayne State University led to the inaugural performance at the African-American Museum in Detroit.
For the past 15 years, La Mora has been teaching weekly Afro Cuban dance classes in New York City. She has taught at The Ailey Extension program and at Cumbe African & Diaspora Dance & Drum. She has been a guest instructor and choreographer in several dance programs and workshops outside New York, teaching yearly at the summer intensive dance program of Humboldt University in California.
In 2005, La Mora founded the artistic director of Oyu Oro, an Afro-Cuban Experimental Dance Ensemble in New York City, which she continues to run as artistic director. OYU ORO has received grants from New York State Council on the Arts, National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and Lower Mahattan Cultural Council and premieres new work every year with a support of Center for Traditional Music and Dance. Also the company has participated in number of cultural festivals including Fiesta del Fuego (International Caribbean Festival in Santiago de Cuba) and Festival in Havana, as well as Baba Chuck Davis’ Dance Africa in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Denver. In 2010, she also founded the Dos Aguas Dance Program, a comprehensive dance and cultural study program bringing Americans and others to learn in Cuba.
Danys "La Mora" Pérez is deeply invested not only in dance itself, but in spreading the knowledge and power of culture, art and history. It is for this reason that her work aims not only to be pleasing to the eye, but also enriching for the mind, body and soul.