Barakoa The African Masquerade Ball


Barakoa The African Masquerade flyer
Barakoa The African Masquerade flyer

Latinos de Corazón is so excited to be a part of Barakoa, he African Masquerade Ball.  This huge artistic and cultural undertaking is a program that will include workshops for people to come and learn the art of African mask making and how it has influenced cultures all over the world.  We will of course be focusing on their influences in Panama and will be learning, teaching, making and performing with our masks.  All of these classes and preparations will culminate in April of 2015 with a Masquerade Ball to be held at RIT with all the other groups and there masks on display and being performed in.  We have all been tasked by the Baobab cultural center to create a cultural collision and can’t wait for all the wonderful creations that are going to be on display.  We would also like to thank The Farash Foundation for their generosity leadership and vision to sponsor such a wonderful event for the community to enjoy this year and years to come.

Barakoa African Masquerade Ball
Diablico Sucio
Barakoa African Masquerade Ball
Diablico Portabelo

BARAKOA: The African Masquerade Workshops in Mask Making
May 6, 2014

Master mask makers Kenneth Melendez (Puerto Rico) and Michael Oludare (Nigeria) will conduct intensive 3-day workshops in mask making techniques as part of Barakoa: The African Masquerade project.

Barakoa is funded by a Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation CREATIVE COLLISION grant. For this collaborative public art project, the Baobab and its partners will be hosting workshops and forming teams for an exposition of masks and costumes, music and dance, celebrating the tradition and its survival across the globe.

Kenneth Melendez is a skilled percussionist who studied at the School of Fine Arts of Ponce, Puerto Rico, and has performed throughout the United States and in Puerto Rico. He is also a skilled artist in the Puerto Rican tradition of mask making, working with various materials such as burlap, coconut, wood, royal palm, paper Mache, gourd, foam, plastic, and wire mash. He has exhibited his art works in the McDonough Museum of Youngstown, Ohio; Esqueleto gallery in Oberlin, Ohio; Lorain County Community College gallery in Lorain, Ohio; Jazz gallery of San Fransico; American History Museum at the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Puerto Rican Culture in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and the Museum of Art Ponce, Puerto Rico, to name a few.

While maintaining a heavy performance schedule, Kenneth teaches and strenuously promotes knowledge of art and Latin music, taking his talents to schools, organizations, universities, and community programs Kenneth will share with participants the process of carnival mask making, including mold/paste making, color combination, alternating parts, and the evolution of the mask. As a master drummer, he’ll also demonstrate the folkloric Bomba & Plena rhythms from Puerto Rico, including songs and hand drum patterns.

Michael Oladipo Oludare is a traditional wood carver, dancer, visual artist, and painter from western Nigeria who will conduct a workshop in traditional African carved wood masks. Michael comes from a Yoruba village which is full of art and culture. It is this culture and the religion of Yoruba people which is always reflected in his art.

“My work is based on the mythological stories of the Yorubapeople of Nigeria. Sometimes, when I am sleeping, I remember the stories my grandfather told me before he died. I often translate these stories into sculptures, paintings…” He wants to relate his cultural experiences to everyone through his art. “Most of my art touches the heart of the buyer; they don’t understand [how] they have the same experiences here in the African Diaspora as where I come from. Through my art my village of Western Nigeria is able to the touch the heart of all.”

He derived the name “Voice of the Village” from his role in the Yoruba community as one who truly speaks and communicates through the “talking drum”. He has played all over the U.S. for various universities including the Junior Black Academy, University of Dallas, and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, as well as for cultural centers, Sandusky NAACP and the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

WORKSHOP SCHEDULE with instuctors Kenneth Melendez and Michael Oludare:

Wednesday, May 14, 6pm: Informational session at the Baobab Cultural Center, 728 Univeristy Ave. Presentation of history and traditions, etc. and introduction.

Thursday and Friday, May 15 and 16, 5 to 9 pm: Workshop sessions at Shawn Dunwoody’s studio, 228 East Main Street Rochester, NY 14604 (MCC/Sibley building) 1st floor.

Saturday, May 17, 9am to 4pm: Workshop session (final day) at Shawn Dunwoody’s studio, 228 East Main Street Rochester, NY 14604 (MCC/Sibley building) 1st floor.

RESERVATIONS: Although there is no formal registration required, we need to anticipate the number of people serious about attending these workshops. Please email your intention to attend to the Baobab: by May 10.



  • Shawn Dunwoody
  • with Lynne Feldman and Hector Arguizoni


  • Latinos De Corazon
  • Kuumba Consultants
  • Rochester West Indian Festival Organization
  • Ujima Rochester
  • Rochester-Monroe County Freedom Trail Commission/Akwabaa:The Heritage Associates
  • Image City Photography Gallery
  • Mounafanyi
  • Rochester Institute of Technology

Stay tuned for more information about additional workshops in mask making with master mask makers. We’ll explore different traditions from across the African Diaspora.

Latinos de Corazón will be focusing on  Diabilico Portabelo, like  the masks featured in the video, large and grand with mustashes and beards of rope accompanied by the words of the the famous Panamanian song “Diablo ,tu no puede conmigo”.

This is to be a cultural collision and the more creative and expressive minds involved the better.  There are masks from all over Latin America and we would love to support more presentations.  If you have ideas or would like to get involved, leave a comment below or send an email through our contact form.

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