Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Culture festival to celebrate Afro-Puerto Rican music and dance with concerts, workshops & a pig roast 

BomPlenazo 2012 kicks off Thursday in Bronx











Jose “Chema” Soto  and Wallace Edgecombe will host  BomPlenazo 2012, the seventh biennial celebration of Afro-Puerto Rican culture at the fabled Casita de Chema.

Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News

Jose “Chema” Soto and Wallace Edgecombe will host BomPlenazo 2012, the seventh biennial celebration of Afro-Puerto Rican culture at the fabled Casita de Chema.

This year’s BomPlenazo festival will celebrate the Afro-Puerto Rican music and dance culture bomba y plena throughout the U.S.
The biennial festival, which kicks off Thursday, will feature four days of concerts, workshops and panel discussions, culminating with a Vente Tú or block party complete with a pig roast and jam sessions.
“We want to cultivate an understanding and appreciation of the culture, as well as an understanding that the South Bronx - this community that people wrote off - has been an important place where this culture has developed,” said festival co-founder Wallace Edgecombe, of the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture.
BomPlenazo 2012 will also celebrate the anniversaries of three Bronx cultural institutions.
Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College, home of Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, is marking its 45th anniversary; Centro Cultural Rincón Criollo (nicknamed La Casita de Chema after its founder) is 40 years old; and the bomba y plena ensemble and non-profit Los Pleneros de la 21, was founded 30 years ago.
“We all came into being when the Bronx was on the skids,” Edgecombe said. “We’re all three different institutions but we endured and now we’re part of the renaissance here.”
Juan Gutierrez, of Los Pleneros de la 21, first proposed the festival idea.
“We saw this generation coming behind us and we wanted the kids and families to get acquainted with the tradition and to identify themselves with this part of the culture,” he said .
Now in its seventh year, the festival will include 15 groups from across the country.
The celebration starts Thursday night with a concert by Los Instantáneos de la Plena , Legacy Women and Semillas Caribeñas .
Among the other highlights are concerts by the all-woman bomba y plena troupe, Bámbula , and Los Pleneros de la 21; screenings of the documentary film “Plenazos Callejeros ”; dance and instrument-making workshops; and a panel discussion on bomba y plena in the diaspora.
The finale is a free block party on Sunday, with a pig roast and jam sessions at La Casita de Chema, the small green house on Brook Ave. and E. 157th St.
Festivals like BomPlenazo are vital to keeping the music and dance tradition alive in small, community settings, said La Casita’s José “Chema” Soto.
“This is the way bomba y plena developed, in settings like this,” he said. “It’s a community thing.”
tsamuels@nydailynews.com
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