The scourge of slavery, which characterized a period whose development was marked by the need for cheap labor force, also left a major cultural legacy in Cuban society. Hundreds of sites throughout the Caribbean Island are permanent reminders of thousands of men, women and children who were uprooted from their homes in Africa.
Food, customs, dances, music, language and religion are part of an African heritage that has passed from generation to generation.
Evidences of the tragedy of slavery can be found in archeological sites, plantations and barracks, where the ill-treated slaves crowded together after working hard in the fields.
Songs, dances and other cultural expressions brought to Cuba have spread throughout the country and are enjoyed by everyone in today's society.
Precisely, the traditions from the slavery period are present in today's culture, especially in the work of the National Folkloric Company.
As a faithful heir of the cultural wealth brought to Cuba from the so-called black continent, the group – founded in 1962 – has become a world-renowned cultural institution that has rescued and spread the true values of Cuban traditional popular culture in the fields of dance and music.
The group also works on research and the selection of expressions whose folkloric essence has a real artistic content that can contribute highly esthetic and scenic elements.
For over four decades, the company has performed in some 500 cities in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
The repertoire of Cuba's National Folkloric Company consists of more than 70 choreographies that show Cuban traditions, including their European origins – Spanish and French – and their African roots, mainly from the Yoruba, Congo and Carabali cultures, among others.
However, the group's work goes beyond performances, as it also fosters teaching activities at events like FOLKCUBA, which is attended by people interested in getting firsthand information about Cuban dances and music.
Experts in folkloric dance and Afro-Cuban percussion offer their knowledge of traditions that originated hundreds of years ago and consolidated as time went by.
Color, rhythm, movement, traditions and life are some of the elements that make up the group's art, which reflects, in an atmosphere of modernity, the cultural heritage brought by the first African slaves brought to the Americas by the Spanish conquistadors.