Jorge Alabe

Candomblé song and dance

Master Candomblé drummer Joge AlabeCandomblé—Nigerian and Beninois religious traditions sustained by West African slaves and their descendants in Brazil—has survived since colonial times due to its strict forms of drumming, song, dance, ritual and cuisine.  During religious ceremonies, participants sing and dance together with specific drum rhythms to honor each of the orixás, or deities.  The proper execution these songs and dances is essential to the tradition.

Jorge Alabê is a member of Rio de Janeiro's Casa Branca, the oldest and one of the most respected and historically significant Candomblé casas, or houses, in Brazil.  Jorge has been seriously studying Candomblé drumming since the age of 10.  At the age of 25, he was given the ceremonial title of Alabê, which made him chief drummer for house of the priestess Iyá Nitinha.  Since that time, it has been his duty to teach younger initiates how to drum, dance, sing, and lead the drumming at rituals and ceremonies.  Explaining the significance of drumming to the Candomblé community, Jorge says, "Without drumming and dancing, Candomblé has no liturgy, no scriptures; and without Candomblé, the orixás have no praise; and without praise the orixá is forgotten and forgets us: our lives become empty and meaningless."

Jorge participated in ACTA's Apprenticeship Program in 2010 with apprentice Anìbal Mejia.  Their apprenticeship focused on the songs and dances used to perform rituals and liturgy for O presente às aguas, or "the offering to waters," a public ritual honoring life-giving water orixás.  Anìbal also worked with Jorge in learning, documenting, and translating the Yoruba-based Candomblé songs, as well as deepening his skill in dance and song for each orixá.


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Master Candomble drummer Jorge Alabe (Photo courtesy of Jorge Alabe)
Master Candomble drummer Jorge Alabe (Photo courtesy of Jorge Alabe)

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