Haitian Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area


ACTA - Posted on 17 September 2012

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Kendrick (left) playing a petwo drum and Daniel playing the manman of the rada drum family.The presence of Haitians in the San Francisco Bay Area is represented by a very small community, nevertheless, the traditional and artistic practice of Haitian dance, drumming, singing, and storytelling is qualitatively represented by master artists such as Florencia Pierre and Daniel Brevil.  ACTA is honored to support, through its Apprenticeship Program, the work of these two artists who are wholeheartedly willing to share and expose their traditions to all the sectors of the Bay Area and to the larger society in general.  Both artists and their apprentices, Djenane St. Juste (the daughter and apprentice of Florencia) and Kendrick Freeman (Daniel’s apprentice), are highly concerned with presenting Haitian traditions with the utmost quality and dignity, especially to disrupt the popular imaginary of Haitian people in the United States.  Misunderstood ideas of the religious practice of Vodou, for example, promoted in movies and shows such as Miami Vice dominate the minds of US mainstream.  Florencia and Daniel provide a much more in-depth understanding of religious, social, and cultural practice of Haitian people through preserving and innovating the cultural performance of Haiti.

For more information on these apprenticeship pairs, please see Djenane St. Juste and Kendrick Freeman’s apprenticeship blogs.

See Florencia and Djenane in the public sharing of their apprenticeship in Krik-Krak, an evening of storytelling from the village of Lagonave, Haiti.

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Haitian Apprenticeships

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1-Apprentice Kendrick Freeman (left) and master Daniel Brevil (right) in Freeman’s home studio (Photo: Russell Roderiguez)

Apprentice Kendrick Freeman (left) and master Daniel Brevil in Kendrick’s home studio.

2-Kendrick Freeman (left) playing a petwo drum and Daniel Brevil playing the manman drum (Photo: Russell  Roderiguez)

Kendrick (left) playing a petwo drum and Daniel playing the manman of the rada drum family.

3-Master Daniel Brevil playing the manman of the rada drum family (Photo: Russell Rodriguez)

Daniel playing the manman of the rada drum family.

4-Apprentice Kendrick Freeman playing a petwo drum (Photo: Russell Rodriguez)

Kendrick playing a petwo drum.

5-Kendrick Freeman (left) playing a petwo drum and Daniel Brevil playing the manman drum (Photo: Russell  Roderiguez)

Kendrick (left) playing a petwo drum and Daniel (right) playing the manman of the rada drum family.

6-Apprentice Djenane Saint Juste takes in the lesson from master Florencia Pierre (Photo: Russell Rodriguez)

Apprentice Djenane St. Juste (left) takes in the lesson from her mother, master artist Florencia Pierre.

7-Apprentice Djenane Saint Juste singing as part of her lesson with master Florencia Pierre (Photo: Russell Rodriguez)

Djenane singing as part of her lesson with her mother.

8-7-Apprentice Djenane Saint Juste singing as part of her lesson with master Florencia Pierre (Photo: Russell Rpierre_florencia3

Djenane singing as part of her lesson with her mother.

9-Apprentice Djenane Saint Juste and master Florencia Pierre sing together (Photo: Russell Rodriguez)

Djenane and Florencia sing together one of the songs they are working on as part of the storytelling that would occur in Florencia’s village of Lagonave, Haiti.

91-Florencia Pierre demonstrates to Djenane St. Juste Haitian games and dances (Photo: Russell Rodriguez)

Florencia demonstrates to Djenane the games and dances that were part of the cultural practice in Lagonave, Haiti.