Afro-Cuban Dance and Music Workshop
SELECT ARTIST BIOS
Having graduated from the Escuela de Arte Samuel Feijoo in Santa Clara, Cuba, Yudisleidy Valdez Mena has been a constant figure in the Cuban music and dance scene since 2001 when she first moved to Havana. Since that time, she has worked as a dancer, choreographer, performer, and instructor with the well known Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, Rumberos de Cuba, and Teatro America. She is skilled in all forms of Cuban dance, both popular and folkloric. Like her rumbero husband, Ernesto “Gato” Gatell, she immigrated to the U.S. in 2014 and has taken up residence in Washington, DC.
Ernesto “Gato” Gatell is one of the most recognized and beloved Cuban singers alive today. In 2013, the U.S. Government acknowledged him as a Musician of Extraordinary Ability at the very top of his field both nationally and internationally, thus allowing him to immigrate to the U.S. in 2014. His list of accomplishments over the past 30 years are far too vast to enumerate, but he has recorded and toured with the biggest names in Afro-Cuban music – Clave y Guaguanco, Tata Guines, Changuito, Pancho Quinto, Rumberos de Cuba, Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, Puntilla, Hilario Duran, Jane Bunnett; and has been a member of several Cuban All-Star groups. His recordings have been nominated for and/or won the top music industry awards in three countries – the U.S. Grammy, the Canadian Juno, and the Cuban CubaDisco. Having mastered Afro-Cuban music, his current vision is to combine Afro-Cuban elements with other styles like Jazz, Funk, and World to create contemporary fusions. He also composes and plays percussion.