Born to Dance, Born to Play

The drum was born to dance. The child of a tree, the drum knows the pulse of its parent’s vascular system, the kinetic locus between the moisture and nutrients that roots seduce from the soil, and the chemical energy that leaves compose with the sun. The drum, ritually severed from its parent’s torso, never forgets this choreography of water and light, drama and love.
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Dead Gorgeous Gear!

How many of us who know the Gede think about their fashion style? These infamous spirits of death and decay are so in-your-face with their sass, their salacious talk, their spot-on mimicry of our carnal secrets that the chic elements of their persona often slip by, like weird scraps of cemetery flotsam. Continue reading

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Feed the Dead in November

We all have them. A doting parent, a best friend, a precocious child, a favorite teacher, a supportive colleague… Lost, too soon, to the other side. The dead. The wheel turns, their numbers swell—with those who happened to be in front of us, even when it didn’t appear so. The first painful passings repeat, like sunsets and new moons and harvests, until we surrender with a humble nod to a power greater than ourselves. Then it’s our turn. Continue reading

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Let’s Talk About the Spirits of Death

Let’s talk about death. How much energy—how many dollars—do we invest during the course of our lives in putting off the inevitable? After all, what can be more frightening for a human than death, the precipice of the unknowable? What loss can be more heartbreaking and traumatic than the passing of a loved one? And yet, in Afro-Haitian tradition, the spirits of death transmogrify into high (and erotic) comedy. Continue reading

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From the Research Corner

[Note:  Makandal’s work, like all projects in folklore, dances ploge (intimately) with research.  This entry will engage the reader with some intriguing questions on representing Haitian music.]


From Doctor Lois:Easter_140420_Closeup

So a publisher has asked me to write an encyclopedia entry on Haitian music in history, geography, and culture. That should be easy for someone who has published a book and myriad essays on the subject, right? Look again. “Music in history.” I certainly know something about Haitian music of the present, and I’ve listened to recordings going back to the 1930s. But what do I really know of…let’s say, the music of Vodou in the nineteenth century?

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Why We Love The Intimate Touch

We leaked the news a few weeks ago, but in case you missed it, Makandal released the first recording from Master Drummer Frisner Augustin’s archive-in-progress.  Why does this album—apparently for instrumental music-loving eccentrics and connoisseurs—have us rocking?


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Album Notes by Doctor Loïs


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Makandal Launches New Blog and Website

Makandal, serving the Haitian, Haitian American, and Friends of Haiti communities of New York City since 1981, now hosts a blog and website. Please follow to learn about and experience the best of Haiti’s classic performing arts. Navigate our pages, top right.

Tanbouyè ba mwen son mwen e
Tanbouyè ba mwen son mwen e
Ountògi ba mwen son mwen
Solèy lève…

Drummer, give me my sound, oh!
Drummer, give me my sound, ah!
Sacred drummer, give me my sound
The sun rises…

Traditional Afro-Haitian spiritual song

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