Djenane Saint Juste's blog

Taking Action!




I am immensely grateful that I was awarded the prestigious Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) apprenticeship for 2011-2012, in which I was able to study intensively with my mother to unearth even deeper stories from she hails on the remote island of LaGonave. The traditional education system on this island draws upon a rich history of storytelling; dance and percussion that has constantly informed my work. Through this apprenticeship, I was able to engage with my mother's knowledge and vision in ways that I could not have foreseen.   Since February 2012 we had been meeting weekly for 2 hours one on one session and at the final six weeks of the training we had been working together to prepare for the showcase “Krik-krak” that we will presented on September 27th and 29th. The Songs, the dances and the stories I learned through this apprenticeship will be using to enrich my dance company Afoutayi repertoire and will be incorporated into our performances, workshops and classes. Summarily, this apprenticeship was a new beginning for me and a spark of a deeper, richer and more rounded journey as a custodian of my people’s tradition and heritage. I am looking forward to expand the fruits of this process in future works and also continue on my mission of promoting, preserving and sharing Haitian culture with our community through our October annual Haitian Festival. I am extremely thankful to my mother and master artist Florencia Piere as know as FOFO for the blessing and this unique opportunity to learn from her several deep and old sacred songs and stories of our people that had make a very significant change in my art work and my personal life. After the conclusion of this apprenticeship program I am more determine to look forward to carrying the torch as high as my mother and my grandmother did. And at the present my action will consist to encourage and prepare my son Hassen Ortega to continue the journey that it is in his blood.

Ti Batiman Blan


The goal of the apprenticeship was to teach, train and prepare me (the apprentice) to carry on the rich cultural heritage of Vodou songs and stories that has been in my maternal family lineage for generations.  My mother, Ms Florencia Pierre (the Master) is a well respected vessel of these songs and stories has been teaching and guide me on this journey for the last couple month.


We had been working on songs and storytellinsg from Lagonave region of Haiti. We did one-on-one sessions of focused learning and practice of the sacred songs, chants and stories that have been in our family for generations. "Ti Batiman Blan", the white little boat was the last song my master Florencia Pierre taught me at the Civic Center Park in San Rafael. This song talks about the faith and hopes of the people of Lagonave, mostly in the region of "Ti Cotfe". The boat is coming to the Island, carrying food, people and stories (See attach video link on Youtube)

larivye mwen te ye- AFOUTAYI- ACTA part 2  . 

Most of the training sessions was held in Ms. Pierre’s home in San Rafael and in the Civic Center park in San Rafael, however, towards the last few weeks of the training, we had been transfer the sessions to Dance with Sherry Studio on 4140 Redwood Hway in San Rafael. This is where we had begin to animate the songs and stories, practice with the other members of Afoutayi Dance, Music and Arts company and get ready for our culminating event which will be a public showcase on the 29th of September.  

At the showcase, the master, Florencia Pierre and apprentice, Djenane Saint Juste and Afoutayi dance company  will perform together a piece about family tradition in Lagonave called Krik-Krak. The showcase will invoke the folkloric life in Lagonave where in the evenings and under the moonlight, the children and the adults sit down together around a bonfire as the adults sing and tell stories to educate the children about the heritage, ancestry and life lessons.

Hope you can come to Krik-Krak on September 27th at Bissap Baobab (19th st and Mission, San Francisco) and on September 29th at Dance with Sherry studio (4140 Redwood Hway, San Rafael) to enjoy the community time that reminds the islands of Lagonave.




Title of the event: Krik-Krak

Brief description: Afoutayi Dance, Music and Arts Company present Krik-Krak a night of storytelling that remains the village of Lagonave in Haiti. In “Lagonave”, night time is considering family time where people of all ages are gathering around a bound fire to take pleasure from “yon ti istwa" storytelling. Is the perfect time to dance, sing, drum, play games, gossip and more to educate each other.  Come up to”krik-krak" and let yourself travel to the magic island of lagonave where the stories become a live. This presentation will be possible thanks to the generous support from The Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) Apprenticeship Program and Baobab village.

Date and time:

Thursday September 27th

 Baobab Village (3388 19th Street San Francisco, CA 94110)

 7:00pm to 9:00pm


Saturday September 29th

Dance with sherry studio (4140 Redwood Highway San Rafael, CA 94903)

6:00pm to 7:30pm

Photo by Babylon Train

Traditional Haitian arts role and importance in our cultural community

Traditional Haitian Dance and drumming is a living cultural art form deeply connected to spirituallity of the "Lwa" or deities of the Haitian Vodou religion, wich connects the Haitian people to their spiritual and cultural heritage. It is a living cultural art form passed down through family lineage of African and Indigenous ancestry. Vodou ceremonies and storytelling moments are where this traditional form is kept alive through ritual music, dance and song. The connection between the singers, storytellers, drummers and dancers helps to create the spiritual symbolism of the dance. The songs in call-and-response style contain magical words that inspire the lwa to come and bless us. It is very important to share this tradition with and pass it on to the next generation especially when they are overseas in order to keep this tradition alive and for the younger ones to know their identity. I am very grateful to ACTA to had given me the opportunity to be one of the 2012 apprentice and be able to do a deeper study of he important songs and storytelling from "Lagonave", Haiti with my master artist Florencia Pierre. We feel that with "Westernization" our religion and culture is under attack and I am only blessed and "Lucky" to come from a strong lineage of culture bearers. I feel I am ready to take on the responsability as my grandmother and mother did of becoming a custodian of my people's culture and on a direct way pass it on to My son Hassen Ortega.




Sweet and Spicy flavor of Haiti

Afoutayi Dance Music and Arts Company


Master artist:Florencia Pierre and Apprentice: Djenane saint Juste

For the first time in Marin County Madame Pierre and Madame Saint Juste

are offering Sweet and Spicy flavor of Haitian Culture to the community.

Starting in August 10th 2012 , Every Saturdays from 4pm to 6pm

Come and get pleasure from dancing YANVALOU, IBO, RABODAY,Kongo and many more... Classes held at Dance with Sherry studio (4140 Redwood Hwy # 8, San Rafael, CA 94903). Contact: (415)574-7205

"Ti Gason" Haitian dance-game from Lagonave Haiti



This video is about my first apprenticeship class by the master artist Florencia Pierre.

In this class she is teaching me "Ti gason piga'w pile sobo" a popular dance game from Pointe a Raquette LaGonave Island in Haiti.

"Ti Gason piga'w pile sobo" is a well liked kind of dance that children of all ages enjoy to do. In the afternoon or evening family and friends gather together around a bonfire were they enjoy singing, dancing, playing music, "tire Kont" storytelling and also dancing to " Ti Gason piga'w pile sobo". This dance specially captivates my attention because of its fun and educational aspect. The kids when they are dancing to it are having a lot of fun and they exercising but they also are aware about the message that it conveys.    I personally have had a lot of fun learning it and I wish you will too.

Description of the dance game:

You need a long piece of stick, or tape or fabric, something that symbolizes the danger. The children get in front of the object. They start singing and jumping by switching their legs without touching the object. Their jumping gradually goes faster as the song goes faster. The winner is the one who can jump on top of the object as fast as possible without touching it.

Song and translantion:

Ti Gason piga'w pile sobo, male va rive'w

Ti Gason piga'w pile sobo, male va rive'w

Ti Gason, male va rive'w

Ti Gason, male va rive'w

"Young boy d on't put yourself in peril lest you get in trouble".


Photo by: Babylon Train