Cuba’s Omni-ZonaFranca Visits NYU

Omni Zona FrancaOmni-ZonaFranca is an innovative poetry, music and performance collective from Alamar, Cuba. In their first U.S. tour, this internationally renowned group performed for an enthusiastic audience in NYU’s Kimmel Center for University Life on March 28, 2012.

The group’s performance was an explosive ensemble of music and poetry, complimented by videos and interspersed with dance and dramatic performances. They also featured a typewriter symphony. Each episode in the show was seemingly spontaneous, but the fluidity made clear the performance was orchestrated.

Several moments in the show brought waves of laughter from the crowd—many of whom were Cuban, particularly when members of the group openly mocked  Cuban bureaucracy. But other moments were somber, such as when group member Luis Eligio D’Omni did an interpretative performance where he stripped naked, was bound in newspaper and packing tape, and was forced to claw his way out.  Throughout, their lyrics were politically charged, addressing government repression in Cuba while taking a critical stance on violence and consumerism in the U.S.

Omni-ZonaFrancaOmni-ZonaFranca’s work is a unique blend of performance, music, poetry, spoken word, rap, visual art, graffiti, video, and public art. The group has been working collaboratively since 1997, and have produced several music/poetry CDs and videos, including the groundbreaking CD Alamar Express. Each year, they host an increasingly popular music, art, theater and poetry festival called Poesía Sin Fin in Alamar, Cuba. Alamar is a peripheral barrio of Havana, and has been a historically low-income black neighborhood.

They have taken part in the Havana Biennial, and international exhibitions and festivals throughout Cuba and Europe. Omni-ZonaFranca has been the subject of three documentaries. This is their first tour of the United States.

Visit the CLACS website to learn about upcoming events. To learn more about Omni-ZonaFranca, visit Generacion Y to watch blogger Yoani Sánchez’s interview with the group, or El Yuma blog to read more about the group’s visit to New York City.

Published by Von Diaz

Von Diaz is a writer and radio producer based in New York City. She is a self-taught cook who explores Puerto Rican food, culture, and identity through memoir and multimedia. Her work has been featured on NPR, American Public Media, StoryCorps, WNYC, PRI’s The World, BuzzFeed, Colorlines, and Feet in 2 Worlds.

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