One of the oldest traditions, Bomba is a style of music and dance brought to Puerto Rico from Africa by the slaves who worked in sugar cane plantations. The music represents a mixture of religious, cultural, and poverty dynamics within struggles of life and love. Bomba often begins with a liana, or a female singer who is answered by the chorus and musicians with a 2/4 or 6/8 rhythm before the dancing begins. Harmony is not used. Dancers interact with the drummer, who is usually solo and dance in pairs without touching each other.
The dancers challenge the drummers in a kind of competing dialog, like the controversia mentioned
earlier. The drummers respond with a challenge of their own. Sometimes one group of dancers will tempt another group to respond to a set of complicated steps. As the bomba proceeds, tension rises and becomes more excited and passionate. It’s not unusual for a bomba to end with all the performers thoroughly soaked with perspiration.
The instrumentation is simple: usually the main rhythm is maintained by a low-pitched drum known as the buleador, while the high-pitched drum or subidor dialogs with the dancers. More complicated counter rhythms are created with sticks beaten on any resonant surface. A third set of rhythms is maintained by a maraca.
Atabey was formed in the early spring of 2008 in Los Angeles, Ca by Jose Rodriguez aka Agboola. The foundation of the groups knowledge on the rhythms, songs, and dances of Bomba come from various mentors from the island of Puerto Rico and from various people from around the United States. The majority of our groups knowledge however comes from years of studying with Elia Cortez of Tamboricua, Coco Barrez from Bayanga/Calle Trece, and Vitito Emanuelli from Bomba Evolucion and from the homies in San Diego, Areito Borincano whom I was a founding member of. Atabey performas at DESCARGA SATURDAY APRIL 16th.