Obini Bata is a government sponsored bata drumming and performance group. In fact, this is the first group of women in Cuba to play Yoruba drums professionally, a role typically reserved for men. Bata drums are hourglass-shaped drums played in a group of three.
Yoruban music has African origins, Nigerian, to be exact. This music and dance were originally used in religious ceremonies. The leader of Obini Bata, a former principal ballarina, tells us the group strives to portray Yoruban music and dance as a cultural art without religious implications.
The group has performed all over Cuba and Nigeria. The performers rehearse 4-8 hours every day in their bare bones studio in a crumbling building in the Central District of Havana. Our visit includes a powerful private performance of singing, drumming, and dancing. The women also conduct a workshop for my group where we try our hand at Yoruba drumming (much harder than it looks), sing a Yoruban song, and dance in long white skirts.
performance and documentary footage of Obini Bata (en español)