MEET THE TEAM
Anara Frank fell in love with Casino as a high school student in Cuba. Upon returning to the US, she couldn’t find anyone dancing the style, so she sought out other Latin Dance forms and began teaching soon after. Since the 1990’s, she has trained numerous dancers in the Casino style, as well as taught it’s history and explained the similarities and differences with other Latin Dance styles.
Although sidelined from performing for about a decade with a tumor and related health conditions, she never stopped learning, teaching, choreographing, or hosting events.
Today, she is recognized as a pioneer in the Boston Latin Dance community. In her career, she has been the Director and Founder of two performing arts organizations: Jam’nastics Inc & MetaMovements. Through those organizations she reached tens of thousands of students, including several who went on to become dance company directors or internationally recognized dancers in their own right. She also has played a key role in cultural exchanges between US and Cuban dancers & musicians in both countries, having led or consulted on more than 50 programs, with the goal of celebrating the cultures and building friendship and understanding. Now healthy again,
Anara recently competed in and won the Casino Competition at The International Festival of the Drum in Havana, and continues to teach, choreograph, perform and speak about the history of the dances she loves and their power to transform our lives in positive ways.
Kaitlin Bresee, originally from Knoxville TN, has been an enthusiastic actress and director from a young age: beginning with her family productions in the basement to rigorous theatre arts training and practice throughout high school. All the while, her passion for social justice and change has been equally strong spending much of her time in high school supporting fundraising efforts for international and national health causes.
During her time at the BU School of Public Health, she was able to merge two passions – the arts and public health. She was excited to begin her practicum placement at MetaMovements in 2013, where she was honored to work with Anara Frank - learning her innovative approaches to community arts programming.
Since working at the company, she has developed her skills as an arts instructor while developing an innovative curriculum that fuses theatre and Latin dance, music, & culture with public health. She further researched these topics by traveling to Cuba and has now becoming a travel consultant for MM Cultural Connections program.
Amanda Cardona was born in NY and raised in the Bronx. Her dance education spans decades with experience & training across classical dance (Ballet, Tap, Jazz, and Pointe), Lyrical and Hip-Hop, International Style 10 dance ballroom dancing, Swing (WCS & ECS) & Country dancing. Further, Amanda is a specialist in Latin Dances.
Amanda’s love of Latin music and dance is directly correlated to her exposure and acceptance of her Puerto Rican roots. Growing up, Amanda initially shied away from exploring Latin music, but she was slowly introduced by her mother to the infectious beats and rhythms of salsa, mambo and cha cha.
Amanda is a founding member of Collective Essence Dance Company based in Austin, TX. It was with this company that Amanda was introduced to Anara & MetaMovements and together traveled to Cuba for dance research.
In addition to her work with MetaMovements, Amanda is also the creator of The Boogaloo Project, a new project under her company, Amanda Cardona Dance.
A multi-talented dancer, singer, lyricist, percussionist, activist, educator and organizational consultant, Lady believes she finds divinity within herself and others through artistic expression. Born and raised in Boston, MA, Lady has been involved in the community as a student, volunteer, and practitioner, learning firsthand the importance of music and dance in education and community building. Born to and surrounded by a family of performers and educators, Lady learned to play percussion instruments, sing and dance Bomba, Plena, Hip Hop and Salsa, amongst other traditional, folkloric and modern genres from a young age.
Utilizing her multiple artistic talents, she has performed locally and nationally in Boston, throughout New England, New York, New Orleans, Atlanta, New Jersey and California. Internationally, she has performed and participated in programs in Cuba (2003, 2012, 2013); Colombia (2004, 2008) and Holland, Netherlands (2005).
With a Bachelors in Communications Studies & Theater Arts from Bridgewater State University, Lady has developed and implemented various programs within the non-profit sector involving several public and private partnerships. She was also an integral part of the development of a local non profit (Reflect & Strengthen), co-founding member of an ethno-musicology project (Bomba Sankofa) and Co-Creator of MetaMovement's Roots & Rudiments Project.
"Juanito el Abuelo"
Juan Gomez Barranco
Juan Gomez Barranco (“Juanito el Abuelo”) was one of the original participants in the creation of Casino & Rueda de Casino in the late 1950’s at the Casino Deportivo de La Habana. Although he was one of the youngest, he quickly gained recognition as one of the best. After the Revolution the Casino Deportivo was closed, and he and his friends brought Casino to new locations, and so many new people joined that it was soon looked at as the most popular dance in the city, with Juanito as one of the recognized leaders of the Rueda. In the 1960’s he played a unique role in Casino’s voyage across the island, when he joined the call for thousands of youth to participate in the country’s Literacy Campaign, teaching people in the rural areas to read and write…and on the side he and others shared their passion for dancing casino.
As an adult he became a musician in his brother’s band “Moncada”, which gave him the opportunity to travel the world. During his approximately 20 years of travels, he taught Casino in different countries, yet always returned to his beloved Havana. He has trained many instructors and performers, formed schools in Italy and Canada, and he is the director of a professional dance company that focuses on celebrating casino as an art form as well as creating new, innovative fusions of casino with today’s popular music.
He is also the President of “Los Fundadores”, the group of dancers from the early days, that still performs the original moves from the earliest Ruedas. He directs multiple casino dance events in Havana, including at the famous “Jardines de 1830,” and continues his mission of sharing the story of the dance and culture he loves, and speaking about the health, joy and healing that can be found in casino, which he sees as an essential tool for bringing people together and forging a path to unity and peace.
He currently is an on-the-ground consultant for MetaMovements.