El Viaje (The Journey)
On June 25 and 26, 2016 international percussion master, Temple Alum (’86) and Philadelphia resident Pablo Batista presented the world premiere performances of El Viaje (The Journey), his extended work in music and dance.
Generously supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and co-sponsored by Boyer College of Music and Dance and Taller Puertorriqueno, El Viaje (The Journey) tells the story of forced emigration from Africa to the Americas, and how spiritual and cultural resilience ultimately enabled slaves to adapt and re-establish themselves with dignity in diaspora.
The performances featured 16 musicians, 6 dancers, spoken word and multi-media imagery.
Created in collaboration with co-writer/arrangers Dennis Guevara and Victor Pablo, and Cuban choreographer Gilset Mora,
El Viaje combines sacred Afro-Caribbean bata drumming, chant and traditional dance with elements from European classical music, jazz and blues, R & B, funk and salsa. It reflects the journey of captive African cultures as they were blended and transformed over five centuries.
Musically, the work also reflects Pablo Batista’s 30 years of touring, recording and performing on Grammy-winning releases in jazz, rhythm and blues and gospel.
In 2013, Batista won a jazz residency at The Kimmel Center, and was commissioned to develop what became “The Journey.” It premiered there as a work-in-progress in June 2014. June 2015, Batista received a new project grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage to expand and present the completed work of El Viaje (The Journey) for Philadelphia audiences. Additional sponsorship from Temple’s Boyer College of Music and Dance enabled Pablo to bring El Viaje to the TPAC stage in June 2016.
Broad Street Review
The African Diaspora’s Latin-Caribbean Accent
June 28, 2016
“Pablo Batista’s El Viaje (The Journey), at Temple University’s Performing Arts Center, was like a happening. . . a multimedia tour de force with 19 musicians, seven dancers. . . each dancer with his or her distinctive body shape and personality showed the beauty of diversity and individuality as well as the strength of the ensemble work.”
“Pablo Batista’s message resonates with today’s multicultural society and brings richness and beauty to this country’s diversity. . . “
“Young students, thirsty for authenticity and culture, need to experience spectacles like this one. They would be proud to see a version of themselves on the stage — tattoos and all — and hear how ancestral rhythms have evolved into jazz, blues, even funk and break dance or salsa, cha-cha, and Latin pop.”