African and Indigenous Institute of Dominican & Haitian Culture
OSVALDO SANCHEZ is the Founder and Director of Pa'lo Monte. He is a percussionist, musician, composer, dancer and teacher of Afro-Dominican and Haitian folk music, dance and culture. His life work is to preserve and defend the African and Indigenous cultural traditions of Dominican and Haitian people.
He began his artistic career at the age of seven when he worked with the Dominican Children’s Folkloric Ballet, eventually moving on to work with other companies, and with notable artists such as Luis Díaz, AsaDifé, and Noo Voo Doo, among others. Today, Osvaldo continues to teach Dominican and Haitian folklore through drumming, song, and dance workshops in universities, cultural institutions, public schools, and for private lessons.
Osvaldo is also the Founder and Producer of the Afro-Caribbean Festivals in Honor of Liborio Mateo, which took place each June in New York City from 2003 through 2007. This festival was held in honor of a Dominican cultural, political and spiritual leader and as an effort to contribute to the positive development of the Dominican Community in New York City. In recognition of this important cultural work, Osvaldo has been named the United States spokesperson for the Palma Sola Foundation, the organization created by Liborio Mateo’s community.
In 2004, Osvaldo and Pa’lo Monte were recognized by New York State Senator Eric T. Schneiderman and Alianza Dominicana, a local community based organization for their work contributing to the preservation of Dominican and Haitian culture and lifeways. Since 2006, Osvaldo has resided in Atlanta, Georgia, where he has continued teaching and leading workshops. His most recent work has included working on a musical project that fuses traditional Afro-Dominican music with other popular musical elements such as merengue, rap, rock and dancehall.
SILVESTRE WALLACE has been involved in music and dance for over twenty five years. He has worked with a great variety of groups that interpret different genres of music, including Latin, Jazz, Funk, Folk, West African and many others. He is a student of African and Latin American Culture and Traditions, and is committed to keeping alive the culture and traditions of the people of Africa and Latin America. Silvestre works with the New York City Board of Education.
CHRIS GARCIA was born and raised in New York City. At an early age, his father taught him Dominican history, specifically the negation of its African roots. During his adolescent years, Chris explored other manifestations of Afro Antillean culture from Cuba and Puerto Rico, but there was still something missing for him. Since joining Palo Monte in 2006, Chris has been able to learn about the roots of his Dominican culture as well as participate in leading workshops throughout New York and other states. Chris continues to investigate traditions of the Dominican Republic and promote them in New York City and else where. As a member of Pa’lo Monte, Chris is dedicated to enlightening people by sharing these cultural manifestations so that they understand and feel pride in their African roots.
FRANK TAVERAS has been involved in music and the arts his entire life. As a youngster he sang for his school chorus and learned singing techniques. He later found what was to become his passion: Afro-Caribbean music; specifically, traditional Afro-Dominican drumming. What started as deep admiration for the traditions and interpretations of the New York City-based Pa'lo Monte Afro-Dominican Folkloric ensemble, ended with his joining the group. At the same time Frank has pursued other avenues of artistic and career interests, such as the innovative combination of technology and the arts. Frank serves on the board of directors of a non-profit youth development organization dedicated to the arts; and, is currently co-writing a book on the musical genres of Puerto Rico. Frank Taveras is currently pursuing a Baccalaureate degree in Hispaniolan Studies at the City University of New York.
JULIO “EL ÑOÑO”ALEQUÍN has been immersed in the music of Dominican Vodoun since he was born in the Dominican Republic. Julio is an innate palero and his assimilation into the folkoric music genre and familiarity with other musical instruments has been very valuable to the Dominican Folkloric Movement in New York City. In Santo Domingo he played with many different folkloric groups and when he arrived in New York, he began playing with Claudio y sus Guedeses prior to joining Pa’lo Monte.
OMAR FREILLA is an activist, poet, and musician, raised in the South Bronx. Omar developed his interest in the preservation of the African Culture in the Dominican Republic and throughout the Americas as a teenager while working at the Caribbean Cultural Center, where he hosted summer youth concerts and assisted in the Center’s popular Carnival in New York festival. He has performed his poetry at Morehouse College, Miami University, Live from the Edge Theater, community demo, and the Third United Nations Conference on racism held in Durban, South Africa. Omar has performed in Cultural Centers, festivals, performance spaces, and religious ceremonies.
Omar is a dedicated activist who sees Pa'lo Monte as a means of confronting the legacy of racism. He is the Founder of Green Worker Cooperatives, a South Bronx-based organization dedicated to incubating worker-owned and environmentally friendly cooperatives in the South Bronx. In 2009, he was named one of the year’s "Innovators" by ColorLines magazine.
BLANCA VASQUEZ is an actress and singer in children's theatre, musical theatre and voiceovers in New York City. She specializes in cartoon and character voices. Blanca is a current member of AFTRA, a performer's union for TV and radio, and she has done audiobooks, promos, dubbing and commercials for NickJr., Target, MTV Tr3s among others. Blanca is a bilingual performer (Spanish/English) and tours plays and musicals with several educational companies. She has worked as a teaching artist and is often invited to be a guest artist for several high schools for their student-written plays. In addition, Blanca volunteers with R.Evolucion Latina, a collective of artists empowering Latino communities through the arts.
Pa'lo Monte © 2012