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Ethnomusicology Visiting Artist Concert: Otoqui Reyes, Puerto Rican Bomba

Tuesday, December 5, 2023 - 7:30pm
Puerto Rican bomba musician Otoqui Reyes
Puerto Rican bomba musician Otoqui Reyes

Otoqui Reyes is a master of the Afro-Puerto Rican dance and drumming tradition called bomba. Reyes was raised in Loiza Aldea, a community with an influential bomba tradition, and also learned other regional styles of bomba. He performed for several years with the Cepeda family, one of bomba’s foremost culture bearers, in the community of Santurce. He also performed in his father’s pioneering group, Agüeybaná, who helped popularize participatory “bombazos” in the 1990s. He will be joined in this concert by his father, Angel “Balancé” Reyes, and by his Seattle ensemble, Hijos de AgüeybanáThe concert also features performances by Otoqui’s UW students in Dance and Music.

Program Notes

Bomba is a centuries old tradition in Puerto Rico, practiced both in slave plantations and free Black communities. It is related to several other Caribbean dance drumming traditions, including gwoka in Guadeloupe, tumba francesa in Cuba, and Bele in Martinique, all of which have roots in Haiti. These traditions all involve a dynamic relationship between sound and movement. In the case of bomba, as it is practiced today, a single dancer improvises while a lead drummer, or subidor, sounds the dancer’s movements. This improvised duet between dancer and drummer is accompanied by percussion and singing in the batey, a native Taino word for a circle in which people conduct play or ritual.
The bomba ensemble includes two drumming roles: a single subidor (also called primo), which sounds the dancer’s movements, and one or more buleador drums that accompany the subidor with a steady rhythm. There are several different rhythmic styles in bomba, including the ones you will hear in tonight’s concert: cuembé, yubá, kalindá and holandé. For each one, the buleador plays a specific rhythm and the dancers use a corresponding basic movement. The drums are accompanied by call and response singing, by the cuá (a barrell struck with sticks) and by a single maraca, usually played by the lead singer (although in the student performances today there will be multiple maraca and cuá players.)


I. UW Dance and Music Students
“Cuembé Namá” (Performed in the cuembé rhythm of bomba)
“Los Jurados” (Yubá rhythm)

II. Hijos de Agüeybaná
“Ven ven hecha pa ca” (Calindá rhythm)
“Sié” (Calindá rhythm)
“Holandé Serrucho” (Holandé rhythm)
“Te Invito” (Cuembé rhythm)


Otoque Reyes, Visiting Artist in Ethnomusicology
Angel “Balancé” Reyes, Special Guest Artist 

Higuos de Agüeybaná
Catherine Cruz  
Tamikia Johns
Adam Rivera
Joel Rosa
Sarie Silva
Naomi Vázquez 

UW Music students (Musen 389/589)
Haley Chavez
Ashley Cook
Nicholas Fowler
Leo Freedman
Galin Hebert
Minghao Li
Nicholas Mendonsa
Ari Okin
Nate Paris
Juan Posada Abal
Sage Ramberg
Tess Roberts
Paula Zhong 

UW Dance students (Dance 244b)
Anna Anderson
Sarah Ann Armatage
Katie Brackman
Linjia Cao
Natasha Crowley
Reaa Dureja
Tippi Fang
Shuyi Huang
Julie Jiang
Riko Kishitani
Andrew Lebeinsky
Honey Hansol Lee
Xinhe Liao
Olivia Musenga
Jack Philbrick
Shima True
Phoebe Wang
Lanqi Zhang
Xiaoyu Zhang
Chenqi Zhu

Musicians on “Te Invito”
Haley Chavez, trumpet; Shannon Dudley, steel pan; Nicholas Mendonsa, guitar; Emily Silks, bass