In the 1950s, something unique was happening at The Palladium dance hall on 53rd Street and Broadway in New York City not seen in other parts of the country. While distinctions in class and race were the norm at the time, teenagers from all backgrounds were drawn to The Palladium, which was the epicenter of the Latin dance craze called the mambo. Ask anyone who grew up in that area at that time and they’ll tell you their tales of sneaking out of the house, their dance garb hidden, to mambo late into the night led by dance legend Pedro “Cuban Pete” Aguilar and his partner.
The documentary "Mambo Man" recalls an era when dance influenced culture and society in ways that have rarely been seen since. Local dance and film fans are invited to a screening of the documentary at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 30, at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., in West Palm Beach. The program includes a Latin dance performance by the Palm Beach Atlantic University Dance Ensemble as well as music by renowned percussionist Pablo “Chino” Nunez. The event is free with regular museum admission. For information, call (561) 832-5196 or visit Norton.org.
Barbara Craddock, nationally known for her talent and passion for the mambo genre, is a visionary of timeless, clave-based, Latin dance and music. Craddock and her late dance partner, Pedro “Cuban Pete” Aguilar, performed, taught, and lectured worldwide. The recipient of many awards for her contributions to Latin dance, Craddock vowed to carry on Cuban Pete’s legacy by sharing her mastery and love of Latin dance and music, especially the mambo. As executive producer of "Mambo Man," she teamed up with Luis Rosario Albert, second assistant director of "Amistad" (1997), "Under Suspicion" (2000) and "El Cantante" (2006), and Alan Tomlinson, an Emmy-award winning television producer and documentary filmmaker who has produced for the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, New York Times Television and others.
|Barbara Craddock with mambo legend Pedro "Cuban Pete" Aguilar|
Setting the stage for the event, Latin music will be performed by Nunez, whose recording and performing experience includes work with legendary figures such as Tito Puente, Hector Lavoe, Celia Cruz, Johnny Pacheco, Marc Anthony, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Ray Barretto, Willie Colon, Ruben Blades, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Larry Harlow, Tito Nieves, Spanish Harlem Orchestra and a host of others. As a noted producer, composer, arranger and musician, Nunez has participated in numerous Grammy recordings and his music can be found in compilations all over the world. He is distinctively known for fusing styles with indefatigable, unique and rhythmic swing in salsa, Big Band, Latin jazz, Christian, gospel, bachata, reggaeton, hip hop and R & B rhythms. Nunez served as a consultant for the documentary, producing and arranging all original music for this film.
Prior to the screening, members of the PBA Dance Ensemble will perform "Si Me Pudieras Amar,” a Latin dance piece choreographed by Craddock. The piece also will be performed as part of the ensemble’s spring dance concert April 4 and 5 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Rinker Playhouse.