Raíces Cultural Collaborative



The Raíces Cultural Collaborative is a loose collective of musicians and artists working to preserve cultural, traditional and folkloric art forms. Participants in this initiative will form a digital network and platform to share and support one another’s work, and work collectively with other artists. Members can propose individual or collaborative artistic and research based projects, working with Raíces to access and obtain the resources required to implement the projects.


We are a network of artists, musicians, researchers and culture bearers. Members are active in the preservation and sharing of cultural, folkloric, and traditional genres, seeking to work together creatively with one another and with Raíces Cultural Center to form artistic and research based collaborations, and are invited to contact us about joining this initiative.


The Raíces Cultural Collaborative seeks to provide support for artists and researchers working on individual and cooperative projects in the traditional and folkloric arts, public history and humanities. During a time when public gatherings are restricted, artists, researchers, and arts educators are responding in creative ways to use digital platforms. This initiative provides members with the opportunity to share and promote each others work, and form relationships for artistic collaboration.


The Raíces Cultural Collaborative was formed after the conclusion of a series of planning meetings held in Summer 2020 to explore the topic of the Gender and Folkloric Expressions of Latin America and the Caribbean. The members of the research panel funded by an incubation grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities practice, perform, preserve, research and teach a diversity of cultural, traditional and folkloric art forms. They decided to immediately  work together as a collaborative group on artistic and research based projects, brainstormed a set of potential projects and a long-term plan, and have already begun producing their first collaborative media project, a round-robin of oral history interviews that will be placed in a collection on the Raíces Digital Archive.


  • Gender and Folkloric Expression of Latin America and the Caribbean Oral History Collection: round robin oral history interviews. Full Group Collaborative Project.
    Expected publish date – 12/2020
  • Retumba and One World Arts Digital Archive Collection. Individual collaboration with Raíces Digital Archive
    In planning. Expected publish date 2021
  • Songs of Healing, Songs of the Ancestors: Digital artistic collaboration including original music composition and media creation
    In planning. Expected publish date 2022

Artist Directory

Drummer, Dancer

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Yvette Martinez

Drummer, Musician, Composer

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Nancy Friedman

Bombera, Artivist, Independent Scholar

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Melanie Maldonado

Capoeirista, Musician, Dancer, Researcher

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Sarah Town

Capoeirista, Drummer, Dancer

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Jana Burton

Drummer, Ethnomusicologist

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Elizabeth Sayre

Interested in Joining?

Yvette Martinez

Artist Bio

Yvette Martinez is a performer, dancer, drummer, and teaching artist. She is the president and Co-founder of One World Arts, Inc., a non-profit organization with an emphasis on providing cultural performances, concerts, and special presentations at theaters, colleges, universities, and a wide array of community festivals. Yvette is also the Co-founder and Artistic Director of ¡Retumba! (Resound!), a multi-ethnic music and dance ensemble founded in March of 1981. Interweaving traditional rhythms, beautiful ancient melodies, with their own unique interpretations and presenting the music and dance of Africa, Europe, South America and the Caribbean. ¡Retumba! Brings to light the importance of people from various cultures working together, demonstrating the similarities and links of our shared traditions. Yvette will be a primary artist in this project, contributing drumming, dance, choreography and composition.


Artistic Highlights

"Jet Blue" Promo



"One World, Many Voices" - excerpt from a documentary started by Ibrahim Gonzalez

Plena Fusion

Nancy Friedman

Artist Bio

Nancy Friedman is the Co-founder of One World Arts, Inc and the Co-founder and Musical Director of ¡Retumba! Born in East Harlem, New York, she developed an interest in Latin music and chose percussion as the focus of her musical expression. She studied music theory at California State College in Sonoma. She continued her musical studies on her return to New York City at the Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts in East Harlem studying percussion with Louis Bauzo as well as studying privately with master drummers Frankie Malabe, Roberto Borrell, John Amira, and Felipe Garcia. She also composes and performs on flute, alto saxophone and guitar. She is a freelance musician and has performed with a variety of groups in the New York area as composer, arranger and percussionist. Nancy will be a primary artist in this project, with the ability to contribute drumming, vocals, composition and performance on flute, saxophone and guitar.

Artistic Highlights

"JetBlue" Promo

Danza Negra

Oyá ¡Retumba! at Lehman Performing Arts Center

"A Dream Come True"

The Star

Escucha La Voz

Melanie Maldonado

Artist Bio

Melanie Maldonado is a bombera, artivist, independent scholar and education administrator with doctoral training in Performance Studies. She is an alumnus of The Smithsonian Institute for the Interpretation and Research of Latino Cultures and was a researcher for the 2005 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Melanie has organized eight Bomba Research Conferences (under the banner name of PROPA) in Chicago and Puerto Rico. She is a state appointed grant reviewer for arts culture In Florida and is on the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs grants task force. Melanie has provided slang editing for two books of Nuyorican poetry and has six publications to her name. She is active in her local community serving as a founding board member for Escuela de Bomba y Plena Tata Cepeda in Kissimmee and as a board member for Alianza Center in Orlando. 

Artistic and Research Highlights

Research: La Ponchinela - Part 1

Research: La Ponchinela - Part 2

Research: Fiestas de Cruz in San Mateo de Cangrejos 

Research: La Enagua en la Bomba Puertorriqueña

Research: Herstories: the Missing Narratives of Women in Bomba - Part 1

Research: Herstories: the Missing Narratives of Women in Bomba - Part 2

Performance: Dancing with Viento de Agua at the 2004 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Community: PROPA's 5th biennial Bomba Research Conference

Sarah Town

Artist Bio

Sarah Town is a musician, dancer, capoeirista, teacher, scholar, and mom. Her interdisciplinary music/ dance scholar research focuses on the histories, aesthetics, and circulation of Cuban popular dance culture, and her published work appears in Ethnomusicology and Studies in Spanish and Latin American Cinemas. Alongside her scholarship, Sarah practices, teaches, and performs Cuban popular music and social dance, and Brazilian capoeira. She currently serves as a Lecturing Fellow in the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University, where she teaches courses on undergraduate research and writing that focus on popular music and dance and improvisational practices in Afro-diasporic and Latinx cultures.  

Artistic Highlights

Capoeira solo in
Princeton NJ, 2018

Impromptu dance performance with students in Princeton NJ, 2018

Sarah y su Cachito, featuring guest performer Mireya Ramos, 2010




  • Timbeando en Nueva York: Cuban Timba Takes Root Abroad.” Ethnomusicology 63:1 (Winter 2019): p.105-36.

  • “Cuba Dances: Popular Dance in the Construction of the Revolutionary State.” Studies in Spanish and Latin American Cinema. 14:2 (2017): p.171-91.


  • Battle of Santiago, La Migra. Made With Pencil Crayons (2017). the world of music (new series) 8:2 (2019): p.103-5.
  • Christina Abreu, Rhythms of Race: Cuban Musicians and the Making of Latino New York City and Miami, 1940-60. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016. Jazz and Culture 1:1 (Spring 2018): p.125-9.
  • Juliet McMains, Spinning Mambo Into Salsa: Caribbean Dance in Global Commerce. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Latin American Music Review 37/ 2 (Fall/ Winter 2016): p.251-3. [Also reviewed for Yearbook for Traditional Music 48 (2016): p.214-6.] 

Jana Burton

Artist Bio

Jana M. Burton (Contramestra Amazonas), World Karate Union and United Martial Artists Fellowship Hall of Famer, serves as the Curriculum Developer of for the Afro Brazilian Arts & Education Academy as well as the Artistic Director for Grupo Liberdade de Capoeira. It is the first capoeira group formed in New Jersey by her teacher, Mestre Cigano. Amazonas, Lady Sensei’s Women’s Martial art Network and Society of Black Belts of America member, has been a featured artist to teach Capoeira philosophy, movement and song across the US as well as 9 different countries internationally in the Caribbean, South America and Africa. Concurrently, she teaches mathematics in the Newark Public Schools system, and is a dedicated freelance teaching artist and performer in several prominent West African dance and drum companies.

Artistic Highlights

Grupo Liberdade de Capoeira - Kwanzaa Roda

Music Training with Grupo Liberdade de Capoeira

Raíces Digital Archive Collection: Contramestra Amazons & Grupo Liberdade de Capoeira

Elizabeth Sayre

Artist Bio

Elizabeth Sayre is a musician and independent scholar in Oakland, California.  She has played, researched, documented, taught, and written about Afro-Cuban batá drumming and other folk and traditional arts since the mid-1990s.  She has served as musical director for Arenas Dance Company, directed by master dancer-choreographer Susana Arenas Pedroso, in the Bay Area, California, since 2012.  She holds dual bachelor’s degrees from MIT, a master’s from Duke University, and completed graduate coursework and research in ethnomusicology at the University of Pennsylvania and Wesleyan University.  Elizabeth has authored articles and co-authored a book chapter on folk and traditional music and arts; some of her writings (1997-2009) appear in the Philadelphia Folklore Project’s magazine, Works in Progress:  In addition to Cuban percussion, Elizabeth plays Brazilian percussion, and performed with Philadelphia-based dance band Alô Brasil from 2001 to 2012.

Artistic Highlights

SF Ethnic Dance Festival 2018, Arenas Dance Company (tumbadora & musical director)

Oya Ashkenaz 2018, Arenas Dance Company
(Iyá & musical director)

Guerreros Ashkenaz 2018 (edited)
(Iyá & musical director)

Susana DM class ad 2015

Demo at Berkeley Library 2016

Elizabeth, Pablo, Ron at LP Studios 2012

Arenas Dance Company at Salsa Rueda Festival 2013

Arenas Dance Company, Cuba Caribe Festival 2013

Okan Iloro - Drum and Song for the Orishas
CD Recording on YouTube