32 Broadway, Suite 1314 • New York, NY 10004 • Tel: 212-571-1555 • traditions@ctmd.org

Colombian Community Cultural Initiative
FolkCOLOMBIA Música y Danza

FolkCOLOMBIA is dedicated to promoting and nurturing the diversity and vitality of Colombian traditional arts in New York City. As an initiative led by a committee of master artists and cultural advocates in New York’s vibrant Colombian community, we focus on revitalizing Colombian music, dance and theater traditions and help them continue to hold contemporary significance. We serve as a center of convergence for community identity and activities, while reaching out to diverse audiences around New York City.

Founded in 2010, FolkCOLOMBIA connects Colombians living in NY with their extraordinary heritage and presents public programs that share the artistry of leading Colombian performers with the general public. We currently have two core public programs: The FolkCOLOMBIA Festival and FolkCOLOMBIA Escuela/School of Dance and Music.

The FolkCOLOMBIA Festival

An annual showcase programmed in partnership with Queens Museum of Art that features established Colombian composers, musicians, dancers and actors with a new generation of upcoming artists. Special guests have included legends such as Latin Grammy Award ‘Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto’, Maria Mulata, Las Alegres Ambulancias, Laura Kalop, and many others.

“FolkCOLOMBIA Escuela/School of Dance and Music”

The Escuela reconnects local Colombian youth with their heritage and performing arts traditions. Providing instruction in the diverse regional music and dance forms of Colombia, the Escuela develops a new generation of young artists to participate in the continuing evolution of unique South American arts now resident in New York City. While preserving culture, the school provides a safe space for the students to build bilingual language skills, develop their creative talents within a group context and explore cultural identity.


This program is FREE for youth age 8-20 of all cultural backgrounds. Classes currently meet on Wednesdays 6-8pm (April - July) at Our Lady of Angelus, 63-63 98th Street, Rego Park (Queens). Student ensembles perform alongside leading professionals at the annual “FolkCOLOMBIA Festival” at Queens Museum in July.


Each module (Feb-May or Sept-Dec) in dance and music will target the study, learning and performance of two Colombian rhythms from different regions. Modules are as follows:

Module 1: Cumbia and Bambuco (currently, spring/summer 2016)

Module 2: Currulao and Joropo

Module 3: Tambora and Torbellino

Module 4: Mapalé and Pasillo

Module 5: Jota and Sanjuanero

Students are grouped into two cohorts, age 8-15 and age 16-20.


Ruben Dario Mejia (Dance Director) was born in Caldas, Colombia. He was awarded a scholarship granted by the Ministry of Culture in Colombia to study dance at the University of Antioquia where he earned his BA. Ruben also studied dance with Julian Bueno Rodrigues, director of DANZAS DEL INGRUMA of Riosucio Caldas and Octavio Marulanda. In 1982, Ruben Dario founded the Dance Company ‘Danza y Musica Aires de Colombia’ in the city of Manizales where he collected the traditional dance numbers ‘Coreomusicales’ of Caldas. Mejia has received several state and private recognitions through his participation in several Colombian traditional folklore festivals. His collections have been published in several Colombian cultural magazines, including ‘‘LA NUEVA REVISTA COLOMBIANA DEL FOLCLOR”, published by the Colombian Board of Arts and Sciences in the Department of Caldas.

Moris Cañate “El Yoky" (Music Director) was born in Barranquilla, Colombia. He currently leads his own Latin band, the distinguished "Grupo Rebolu". At the age of five, he joined the Afro-Colombian dance group called "Bambazu", directed by Luz Marina Cañate Tejedor and Abraham Caceres Julio. He studied dance and music at "Corporacion Cultural Barranquilla" and was part of Kalimba, an Afro-Colombian dance group. Cañate also founded the "Corporacion Cultural Alma Caribe". Other bands that Moris has been a part of include "Cumbiarama NY”, Folklore Urbano, and Cumbianba EneYe.

Karla Florez Albor (Academic Director) is an educator, dancer, choreographer, writer, and researcher. Alumnae and member of Palma Africana Folk Dance School, Barranquilla Colombia, since 1985. Mrs. Florez studied contemporary dance with Marianela Boán, Danza Abierta, in Cuba, 1997. She has performed at different events in Colombia, Cuba, Italy, and Greece. Karla cofounded Ombligo’e Kazabe Dance Company 1998 where she created contemporary dance pieces based on traditional dance movements like: Mujer en Clave de Fandango IDCT, 1998. Member of The International Dance Council C.I.D. Unesco and Speaker at the 22nd Dance Congress on Dance Researcher Athens, Greece 2008, presenting The Green Inchworm, children’s book. NYFA Mentee 2008. Teaching Artist 101. Mrs. Florez has developed her cultural programs based on Colombian folk and Spanish language and has taught many different public libraries, colleges, and community centers around the U.S.A.

Rafael Leal (Administrator) has played at “FolkCOLOMBIA Festival” since its inception in 2010. He is also an accomplished author and percussionist. Credits include, “Como Tocar en Bateria Ritmos Internacionales y Autóctonos”, a text which offers fundamentals of Colombian rhythms.

Rafael Leal and Mrs. Karla Flores will document classes, check in on assistance and location status, and interview participants/students’ experiences in the program on a monthly basis.



Special Guests for classes:

Pablo Mayor (pianist, composer/arranger, producer, and educator), originally from Colombia, holds a B.A. and M.A. in Jazz Arranging from the University of North Texas. Formerly Professor of Jazz at Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, his work with his group, the Folklore Urbano Orchestra, has led to the production of three distinguished CD’s and performances at national and international venues. Mayor’s music has been heard by Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra (including the commission of an original Colombian porro), and his arrangements have been recorded by Totó la Momposina. He is also the founder and producer of Encuentro NYC Colombian Music Festival.

Nestor Gómez Jr., is a multipercussionist and master of Atlantic coastal drumming including tambor alegre and caja and a regular guest artist invited to teach Cumbia rhythms.

Daniel Fetecua Soto (Dancer & Choreographer), a native of Bogotà-Colombia, holds a BFA from Folkwang-Hochschule, Germany, and has appeared as guest artist in Pina Bausch’s masterpieces, Rite of Spring and Tannhauser. Fetecua has also worked with La Fura dels Baus, Kuo Chu Wu and won a Salsa Award in the European Salsa Championship in 2004. He is the founder and artistic director of Pajarillo Pinta'o, a dance company that combines Colombian Folklore and Modern Dance, based in New York and Germany. In 2006 Daniel received an honor from the National University of Colombia for his contribution to the preservation of Colombian traditional dances outside of Colombia.

Osiris Barcenas (Dancer & Choreographer), is founder and president of the Instituto de Cultura y Arte Latinoamericano of Hackensack, New Jersey, a non-profit organization that promotes and preserves Latin American traditions. From Baranquilla, Colombia, Ms. Barcenas is a professional dancer, choreographer and teacher. As a member of Grupo Folclórico Universidad del Norte, she has toured in South America and Europe, performed at the Carnival de Barranquilla, and is a licensed Zumba instructor.



We are in the spotlight!

FolkCOLOMBIA’s team works tirelessly to create awareness of a solid, soulful South American culture by disseminating Colombian Dance and Music as part of the eclectic New York City scene. Our initiative is promoted through CTMD’s website and partners, and our own social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube). Our publicities are bilingual (English and Spanish) which allow a diverse and larger outreach. Our e-blast reaches over 10,000 people interested in our programs. We are present in a variety of public events including Colombian, Latinos and multicultural activities citywide and gather leaders of our communities, partners and supporters from all over at our Annual Fundraising Night.

We have a successful proven record at our annual celebration of “FolkCOLOMBIA Festival” at Queens Museum gathering thousands of people with different cultural backgrounds. Our festival has had extensive media coverage including outlets such as El Diario, La Prensa, NY1, Univision, RCN (Colombia), and Queens Latino, among others.


Key Artists and Individuals:
• Moris Cañate - percussionist and co-founder of Grupo Rebolu
• Johanna Castañeda - four-stringed cuatro and singer
• Sebastian Cruz - guitarist, composer, director of Coba
• Daniel & Ana Fetecua-Soto - dancers and founders of the folk dance ensemble Pajarillo Pintao
• Alejandro Florez - guitarist, composer and director of Tibaguí Trio
• Rafael Gomez - guitarist and director of Grupo Latino Son
• Gabrielle Hamilton - folklorist, CTMD Project Director
• Andres Garcia - Andean music guitarist
• Rafael Leal Ramirez - percussionist and author
• Anna Mayor - flutist and co-founder of Encuentro de Músicos Colombianos en Nueva York
• Pablo Mayor - pianist, composer, director of Folklore Urbano and co-founder of Encuentro de Músicos Colombianos en Nueva York
• Diego Obregon - marimba maker and director of Grupo Chonta
• Guillermo “Willie” Peñate - percussionist with Los Macondos and Insignia Vallenata
• Ronald Polo - vocalist, gaita player, and co-founder of Grupo Rebolu
• Camilo Rodriguez - gaita player and member of Maku
• Albor Ruiz - leader of the Ruiz family group, Los Bambuquitos
• Martin Vejarano - gaita player and founding director of La Cumbiamba eNeYé

Learn More
Read On-line Profiles of Master Colombian Artists:
Diego Obregon
Martin Vejarano
Eugenio Oretega

Check out our artists:
On air at WFMU
On YouTube


Advisory Board

Jorge Arevalo Mateus
Executive Director - Association for Cultural Equity

Fabian Zarta
Actor and Producer

Peter Rushefsky
Executive Director, Center for Traditional Music and Dance

Ethel Raim
Artistic Director, Center for Traditional Music and Dance


In past years, this initiative has been possible in part thanks to the support of Council Member Julissa Ferreras, the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.


Edited for web by Bridgid Bergin, 2016.

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