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Def Poet celebrates Afro-Dominican culture and 166 year independence

University of Massachusetts will celebrate the sights and sounds of Dominican Independence Day this Saturday, February 27, with a series of cultural performances in the Fine Arts Center. The event is organized by the UMass Casa Dominicana, a cultural RSO that provides students with social and educational events that celebrate Dominican culture.

“The program will consists of Highlighting individuals and organizations that are  working on a Black expression in the Dominican Republic, Blas Jimenez, Xiomara Fortuna and Bayahoma foundation,” says Gisel Saillant of Casa Dominicana.

The semi-formal event will celebrate 166 years of Dominican independence with a range of performances that highlight the unique traditions and history of Dominican culture. This year’s Independence Day event focuses on Afro-Dominican culture, with performances from the Afro-Dominican Ensemble KumbaCarey and Dominican-American slam poet Oveous Maximus.

KumbaCarey is an ensemble group that seeks to preserve African heritage in Dominican culture in their performances of traditional rhythms. They recreate the rhythms of Palos, Congos, Bambula, Machaco, Mangulina, and Carabine, as well as Merengue and Gaga. They are directed by master dancer Pedro Raposo and master percussionist Alexander Callendar, and have performed at colleges and festivals across the country.

Oveous Maximus is a Dominican-American spoken word artist whose poetry has won numerous awards and garnered a devoted fan-base across the country. Maximus began his poetry career in 1993 following the suicide of his brother, Carlos “Ziiinc Blue” Salcedo, a fellow poet and rapper. Since his first open mic at the Nuyorican Poets Café in New York in 2003, Maximus has been featured in the documentary film SPIT, Showtime at the Apollo, the sixth season of the HBO original series Def Poetry, and the television video “The Millions.” He was also the Grandslam Poetry Champion of the LouderARTS 2006 slam team and placed third in the National Poetry Slam with LouderArts. Oveous Maximus has dedicated his career to the preservation of his history and culture, and to the memory of his brother Ziiinc Blue.

The program also features performances from local groups such as Ritmo en Mi and UMass professor Augustin Lao-Montes.

“Ritmo en Mi, a dance group from Peck Middle school in Holyoke, will be performing during the event,” said Saillant. “We also invited Professor Augustin Lao-Montes to speak about the formation of a Dominican Racial Identity.”

The event will celebrate the Dominican Republic’s split from Haiti on February 27, 1844. The Dominican Republic had historically been occupied by both Spanish and French colonists since the arrival of Columbus in 1492. Casa’s Independence Day Event will explore the history of the island from its various occupations to its recognition as an independent country.

The Casa Dominican Independence Event will take place from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. in the lobby of the UMass Fine Arts Center. The event is $8 for Five College students and $10 for general admission. It is a semi-formal event, and dinner will be provided to those who attend.

Rachel Dougherty can be reached at

One Response to “Def Poet celebrates Afro-Dominican culture and 166 year independence”
  1. Lynn Caseres says:

    Great information 🙂

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