BÁN - Band or group of people organized with a definite goal.
RARRA - People dressed in costumes; To dance together the characteristic dance of the Cuban Carnival (comparsa)
Grupo Bán Rarra was formed in 1994 by Isaias Rojas Ramirez. He is the groups choreographer, researcher and also a musician and dancer. Sr Rojas is a graduate of the Instituto Superior de Artes de Cuba (ESA).
In the late nineteenth century, many refugees from the Haitian Revolution settled in eastern Cuba. Prior to the revolution Haiti was the richest and most oppressive colony in the Americas. The revolution was so violent and bloody that Haiti has not recovered to this day.
These refugees, both black and white started coffee and sugar cane production in eastern Cuba. They also brought their Afro-French culture and religions to add one more ingredient to the Mullato culture of Cuba.
Sr Rojas and the entire group come from Guantánamo, the eastern-most province of Cuba, and are descendants of these Haitian refugees. His research specialty is the investigation of Voodo in Guantánamo. Bán Rarra performs the results of his research, displaying the Cuban-Haitian traditions that are alive in eastern Cuba.
The group consists of thirteen individuals; six dancers and seven musicians, some of whom also dance.
The group, while performing dances and music handed down from previous generations is also highly trained. The dancers are all graduates of the dance program of the Escuela Nacional de Arte.
Sr. Rojas formed the group in Guantánamo and moved them to Havana in 1996. Bán Rarra rehearses four days a week, unless there is a show that day. They also do workshops and shows for foreigners on occasion.
Great band (and great dancers if you ever have a chance to see them!)
Ban Rarra is an amazing dance and music group that highlights eastern Cuban and Haitian cultures, from traditional styles of rumba and religious music to very post-Special Period themes (see, for example, the theme "El Yuma Cambia a la Gente"!). They are truly phenomenal live, and if you ever have a chance for legal travel (or the embargo ends...), they are an experience not to be missed. Meanwhile, the disc itself is a musical journey from Mambo to trova-ish sounds to very traditional Afro-Cuban/Haitian/etc aesthetics and so on! It's a great experience for the listener. - Ana E. Fulana, New York