Proyecto Bembe (Project "Bembe") is an Afro-Latino percussion-based performing arts after-school program for school age youth. Through the use of applied ethnomusicology techniques within a Positive Youth Development model, Proyecto Bembe promotes musical and performance skills, builds youth leadership, assertive communication and collaboration skills, and self-respect and cultural identity exploration through Afro-Latino musical culture.

Proyecto Bembe operates under the Founding Partnership of Milwaukee Public Theatre, and consists of:

 

Proyecto Bembe Team

      Johanna de los Santos     Co-Founding Director Proyecto Bembe Co-Founding Director, Johanna De Los Santos (BA-University of Wisconsin, Latin American Studies, MA-New York University-Latin American and Caribbean Studies) has dedicated over 20 years of professional work, community volunteerism and academic study toward using the integration of Latino/Latin American/Caribbean and general creative arts & media to advance inside-out personal and community development. Since 2007, she has been Executive Director of the New York City-based youth development non-profit, Art Start, that uses the creative arts to facilitate personal development with homeless youth and those at risk of incarceration. A Milwaukee-native, she is also a South Side parent with two children enrolled as students at the Bruce-Guadalupe Community School.

 

    Johanna de los Santos

    Co-Founding Director

Proyecto Bembe Co-Founding Director, Johanna De Los Santos (BA-University of Wisconsin, Latin American Studies, MA-New York University-Latin American and Caribbean Studies) has dedicated over 20 years of professional work, community volunteerism and academic study toward using the integration of Latino/Latin American/Caribbean and general creative arts & media to advance inside-out personal and community development. Since 2007, she has been Executive Director of the New York City-based youth development non-profit, Art Start, that uses the creative arts to facilitate personal development with homeless youth and those at risk of incarceration. A Milwaukee-native, she is also a South Side parent with two children enrolled as students at the Bruce-Guadalupe Community School.

    Salim Hernandez     Program Coordinator Program Coordinator, Educator, Mentor and All-around Artist (Mixing Engineer, Producer, Songwriter and Vocalist) Salim Hernandez; has been part of the music industry for more than a decade. Being born in Puerto Rico (later moved to New York) to a Master Bomba dancer and legend, the tradition of rhythms, creation, and performance runs deep in his veins. Salim has contributed to the careers of some of the most talented independent/underground and major-label artists around. He has collaborated with countless performers in genres spanning from Afro-Latino music to jazz, pop and beyond. Salim’s passion for music is rivaled only by his hunger to support the youth in being their most creative, integral and accountable selves. This calling led Salim to create a motivational curriculum called “High Expectations”, which was featured in local schools for at risk youth whom he mentored in New York. In 2014, Salim moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he continues to follow his love for music, mentorship and the development of our youth. In 2016, He began as a volunteer for “Proyecto Bembe”, giving him the opportunity to contribute many hours of service, prove his abilities, and become the Program Coordinator. Salim works alongside the Program Directors and the Milwaukee Public Theatre to further reach, engage, and support the youth willing to commit to hard work and discipline through music and arts.

    Salim Hernandez

    Program Coordinator

Program Coordinator, Educator, Mentor and All-around Artist (Mixing Engineer, Producer, Songwriter and Vocalist) Salim Hernandez; has been part of the music industry for more than a decade. Being born in Puerto Rico (later moved to New York) to a Master Bomba dancer and legend, the tradition of rhythms, creation, and performance runs deep in his veins. Salim has contributed to the careers of some of the most talented independent/underground and major-label artists around. He has collaborated with countless performers in genres spanning from Afro-Latino music to jazz, pop and beyond. Salim’s passion for music is rivaled only by his hunger to support the youth in being their most creative, integral and accountable selves. This calling led Salim to create a motivational curriculum called “High Expectations”, which was featured in local schools for at risk youth whom he mentored in New York. In 2014, Salim moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he continues to follow his love for music, mentorship and the development of our youth. In 2016, He began as a volunteer for “Proyecto Bembe”, giving him the opportunity to contribute many hours of service, prove his abilities, and become the Program Coordinator. Salim works alongside the Program Directors and the Milwaukee Public Theatre to further reach, engage, and support the youth willing to commit to hard work and discipline through music and arts.

    Imani Jalil     Dance Teaching Artist Imani Jalil was born and raised in Milwaukee. She began her dance training in ballet, jazz, and tap at the age of eleven at Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts. After graduating from RMSA, Imani became a dance major at Milwaukee High School of the Arts, where she gained experience in modern dance techniques, including Graham and Horton. Upon graduation, from MHSA, she auditioned for the dance department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She was a dance major in the contemporary dance track through the end of her sophomore year. She switched over to the Africa and the Diaspora dance track before her junior year of college and graduated with her B.F.A in contemporary and African dance in August of 2015. In June 2015, Imani had the opportunity to embark on a dance study abroad program to Brazil, where she studied many forms of Afro-Brazilian dance and movement.  While at UWM, Imani had the opportunity to study and perform various styles of movement, including ballet, modern, jazz, tap, hip-hop, Latin, African, and traditional Caribbean and South American dance forms. She performed several times with the African dance company, Ko-thi Dance Company, under the direction of founder Ferne Caulker-Bronson. Currently, she is a member of Panadanza Dance Company in Milwaukee, a group that studies and performs traditional dances from all over Latin America, specifically the countries of Brazil, Panama, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. As a member of this group, Imani had the opportunity to perform at The Panama Salsa Congress in May of 2013. Imani has been teaching and performing all over Milwaukee for the past five years. Currently, she is a dance instructor at La Causa Charter School, the United Community Center, and Pius XI High School. She is also the school administrator at the Milwaukee Ballet School and Academy. She is excited to be teaching for Proyecto Bembe this year at the UCC.

    Imani Jalil

    Dance Teaching Artist

Imani Jalil was born and raised in Milwaukee. She began her dance training in ballet, jazz, and tap at the age of eleven at Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts. After graduating from RMSA, Imani became a dance major at Milwaukee High School of the Arts, where she gained experience in modern dance techniques, including Graham and Horton. Upon graduation, from MHSA, she auditioned for the dance department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She was a dance major in the contemporary dance track through the end of her sophomore year. She switched over to the Africa and the Diaspora dance track before her junior year of college and graduated with her B.F.A in contemporary and African dance in August of 2015. In June 2015, Imani had the opportunity to embark on a dance study abroad program to Brazil, where she studied many forms of Afro-Brazilian dance and movement. 

While at UWM, Imani had the opportunity to study and perform various styles of movement, including ballet, modern, jazz, tap, hip-hop, Latin, African, and traditional Caribbean and South American dance forms. She performed several times with the African dance company, Ko-thi Dance Company, under the direction of founder Ferne Caulker-Bronson. Currently, she is a member of Panadanza Dance Company in Milwaukee, a group that studies and performs traditional dances from all over Latin America, specifically the countries of Brazil, Panama, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. As a member of this group, Imani had the opportunity to perform at The Panama Salsa Congress in May of 2013.

Imani has been teaching and performing all over Milwaukee for the past five years. Currently, she is a dance instructor at La Causa Charter School, the United Community Center, and Pius XI High School. She is also the school administrator at the Milwaukee Ballet School and Academy. She is excited to be teaching for Proyecto Bembe this year at the UCC.

      Cecilio Negron, Jr.     Co-Founding Director Co-Founding Director and Master Latin Percussionist, Cecilio Negron, Jr. has been performing & providing ethnomusicology-based music education to Milwaukee youth for over 15 years, both through the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music as well as Milwaukee Public Theatre. Hailing from a family of multiple generations of drummers and artists, Cecilio connects his students to the rich lineage of world drumming, oral history and Latin musicianship in Milwaukee. Cecilio is also a founding member of the Afro-Cuban and Latin 10-piece jazz orchestra, De La Buena, as well as numerous other groups, including Cache Milwaukee.     

 

    Cecilio Negron, Jr.

    Co-Founding Director

Co-Founding Director and Master Latin Percussionist, Cecilio Negron, Jr. has been performing & providing ethnomusicology-based music education to Milwaukee youth for over 15 years, both through the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music as well as Milwaukee Public Theatre. Hailing from a family of multiple generations of drummers and artists, Cecilio connects his students to the rich lineage of world drumming, oral history and Latin musicianship in Milwaukee. Cecilio is also a founding member of the Afro-Cuban and Latin 10-piece jazz orchestra, De La Buena, as well as numerous other groups, including Cache Milwaukee. 

 

 

    Bony Plog-Benavides     Teaching Artist Bony Plog-Benavides is a native of Bogotá, Colombia, where she studied with Cuban percussionist Fran Calzadilla. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music with a concentration on Percussion Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where she studied with David Bayles. In May 2008, she finished her Master’s Degree in Ethnomusicology at Arizona State University. Her thesis research focused on the popularization of Gaita Music, a musical tradition of Northern Colombia. While at ASU, Mrs. Plog-Benavides studied with African music scholar Mark Sunkett and renowned drummer Dom Moio. Mrs. Plog-Benavides currently teaches for Milwaukee Public School as a Percussion Traveling Music Teacher as well as at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and Concordia University as a Percussion Instructor.

    Bony Plog-Benavides

    Teaching Artist

Bony Plog-Benavides is a native of Bogotá, Colombia, where she studied with Cuban percussionist Fran Calzadilla. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music with a concentration on Percussion Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where she studied with David Bayles. In May 2008, she finished her Master’s Degree in Ethnomusicology at Arizona State University. Her thesis research focused on the popularization of Gaita Music, a musical tradition of Northern Colombia. While at ASU, Mrs. Plog-Benavides studied with African music scholar Mark Sunkett and renowned drummer Dom Moio. Mrs. Plog-Benavides currently teaches for Milwaukee Public School as a Percussion Traveling Music Teacher as well as at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and Concordia University as a Percussion Instructor.

Proyecto Bembe Advisors

Felix Sanabria

Master Afro-Latino Percussionist

 

     Pascual Rodriguez       

Principal, Bruce Guadalupe Community School

Erin Winkler, PhD
Chair, Department of Africology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

 

Simone Linhares Ferro, PhD
Chair, Department of Dance, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

 

 

Julie Kay Kline
Associate Director, Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies @ University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Julio Pabón

Milwaukee Public Theatre, Co-Founder of De La Buena

Erica Flores, NMT
Neurological Music Therapist, Healing Harmonies

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volunteer

Become a Proyecto Bembe workshop volunteer and give the youth your time, undivided attention, and supportive connection while having fun and learning!

Qualifications

  • A positive attitude and the belief that the youth participants can achieve anything with the right support and encouragement.

  • Completed volunteer application and background check.

  • Previous experience working with, volunteering with or parenting children or youth/pre-teens. 

  • Ability to commit to six-weeks, one day per week for one hour.

  • Music/Theater/Dance/Performing arts background preferred but not required. Passion for the performing arts is!

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donate

Please consider making a tax deductible donation to this program. Every dollar of your donation goes immediately to securing workshops and performances for students in this project in the January - June 2016 session.

  • Donate directly to Milwaukee Public Theatre, Proyecto Bembe's fiscal sponsor, HEREYour donation is automatically earmarked for Proyecto Bembe.
  • Mail a check with "Proyecto Bembe" in the Memo line to: Milwaukee Public Theatre/Attn: Barbara Leigh/626 East Kilbourn Ave. Suite #802/ Milwaukee, WI 53202

All donations are 100% tax-deductible. You will receive a donation receipt/letter within 30 days.


intern

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Practice & Performance Ensemble

Proyecto Bembé's Practice and Performance Ensemble consists of 4th-8th graders at the Bruce-Guadalupe Community School who commit to a full year of weekly after-school rehearsals. Rehearsals focus on skill-building, music education, ethnomusicology of the Afro-Latino diaspora, and youth leadership.  

The Performance Ensemble performs publicly throughout Milwaukee. In addition to these guest appearances, the group also hosts two larger concerts at the United Community Center each year: The Proyecto Bembe Spring Showcase in May and the La Noche Buena Showcase in December. These annual concerts invite innovative collaborations with some of Milwaukee's most talented musicians and dancers, both youth and professionals.