Harlem in Havana Helped Popularize Afro Cuban Music and Dance in North America

(Watch a short clip from the  coming film)

JIG SHOW film spotlights Cuban Dancers who brought Rumba, Batá Drums, Lucumi Rituals and Santeria songs to U.S. and Canadian Audiences before the Revolution

From the secular to the spiritual, Afro Cuban music and dance were rapidly growing in popularity in the U.S. by the mid-20th century. With the 1959Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro, international relations were shattered, artistic freedoms ended and travel was restricted to the tropical island once known as America's favorite vacation spot.

Although the best talent from Cuba has long been forgotten in the states, Afro Cuban culture still has a strong hold on American entertainers. Many U.S. troupes today incorporate this rich blend of Latin, African and European cultures into their repertoires. But, there is still much to be discovered about how the Afro Cuban craze landed and took root in American soil. Read More.

SDF Helps Preserve Black and Cuban Entertainment History

As we prepare for final production on JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havana, we are excited to have The Southern Documentary Fund (SDF) on board as fiscal sponsor for the project. 

SDF is a nonprofit arts organization that cultivates documentary projects made in or about the American South. Inspired by their core belief that documentaries have the power to change lives and communities, SDF serves as a leading advocate for powerful southern storytelling, providing filmmakers and artists with professional support, filmmaking grants, and fiscal sponsorship. 

Having SDF as a fiscal sponsor allows filmmakers to solicit funds from individuals, foundations and other philanthropic sources that require IRS nonprofit status to provide donations to the project. These donations are then also tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. 

To donate to tour film project, visit our page at the Southern Documentary Fund.

Burlesque star Chicava HoneyChild to be featured

Burlesque star Chicava HoneyChild, showgirl, scholar, black burlesque historian and president of Brown Girls Burlesque, is on board to be featured in the film, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havana. 

Offering her expert opinion in JIG SHOW, Chicava is the Creative Producer and Proprietress of New York City’s Brown Girls Burlesque and lead teacher of The Broad Squad Institute. She received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Art from Goddard College- her areas of interest being performance art, women of color in burlesque heritage, and sacred sexuality and spirituality. 

She is currently working on a documentary on the legacy of Women of Color in burlesque heritage.  

Visit browngirlsburlesque.com to learn more. 

LOS RAKAS on Board!

Los Rakas, the talented Panamanian duo from Oakland, CA, known for their ferocious, bilingual emcee skills, has committed to bringing their exciting brand of Afro-Latin music to the upcoming documentary film project, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana. 

Rocking parties around the globe with their popular mix of Hip Hop, Latin, Reggaetón and Caribbean dancehall beats, Los Rakas is the future of world music! This perfect collaboration further affirms the most exciting dance music on earth still courses through the Afro-Latin diaspora. Check out Los Rakas music or learn more at losrakas.com

Tampa Production Underway!

Doc Rivera Interview at the Showmen's Museum in Tampa, Florida - With Gazio Productions

Don't wait for the film...See the BROWN SKIN SHOWGIRLS now!

Support the film project and be one of the first to receive Brown Skin Showgirls: A black and white photographic collection of burlesque, exotic, shake, salsa, rumba and chorus line dancers, strippers and cross-dressers from Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havana Revue, 1936 to 1967. 

This book is guaranteed to expand your knowledge of Black and Cuban performers that shaped American popular culture. Get ready to be titillated! A portion of the proceeds will help to complete this film project. 


HARLEM IN HAVANA heads to Cucalorus Film Festival

JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havana, a compelling new documentary film by Leslie Cunningham, has recently been accepted into the Cucalorus Film Festival. Cucalorus is a non-competitive festival focused on supporting innovative artists and encouraging creative exchange. 

The festival is held each November in historic downtown Wilmington, North Carolina with screenings of 150 films from around the world. The Works-in-Progress program plays on the double meaning of the word “progress” by supporting films in-production by progressive filmmakers exploring social justice. 

The program showcases up to ten projects and provides direct financial support to at least 15 filmmakers through honorariums, travel stipends, lodging, airfare and rental fees with a special focus on supporting North Carolina filmmakers. The program includes community engagement events, public and private screenings, impact strategy sessions, and one-on-one consultations. Films in the 2014 program focused on the environment, sociopolitical action, race, and the South. 

The Works-in-Progress program is a partnership between Alternate ROOTS, Working Films, the Southern Documentary Fund and is funded in part by the North Carolina Arts Council and Alternate ROOTS. 

Visit Cucalorus Film Festival to learn more.