Check out the latest videos on the Digital Portobelo YouTube Channel
or great photo essays on our sister site Picturing Portobelo
Celedonio Molinar Ávila (1916-2005) remains the most renowned 20th century Major Devil in the Congo carnival tradition of Portobelo, Panama. Born in Nombre de Dios, he learned how to perform the character from a person that migrated to Nombre de Dios from Portobelo. In 1945, Celedonio married a woman from Portobelo, moved there, and brought the Major Devil character back with him. He also introduced the tradition of “Blessing” or “Baptizing” the Devil to the area. Having served in the role for 60 years, Celeonio influenced and shaped the devil character and Congo tradition in Portobelo more than any other 20th century figure. Produced by Digital Portobelo in collaboration with Currents Artist Collaborative, this video was video is a tribute to his legacy. It represents interviews conducted between May 2000 and July 2013 by Renee Alexander Craft and Arturo Lindsay. Interviewees include: Ileana Solís Palma, Carlos Chavarría, Raúl Jiménez, and Celedonio Molinar Ávila. The videography was done by Roni Nicole Henderson, Renee Alexander Craft, Ileana Solís Palma, Andrew Synowiez, Stephen Levitin (aka Apple Juice Kid), and Charles Mack with photography by Renee Alexander Craft and Arturo Lindsay. It was edited by Roni Nicole Henderson under the editorial direction of Oronike Odeleye.
After establishing a Beat Making Lab at La Escuelita Del Ritmo in Portobelo in 2012, where over a dozen youth collaborated with local and international artists on original electronic beats and songs, Professor/emcee Pierce Freelon, producer/DJ Stephen Levitin (aka Apple Juice Kid) and Videographer/Editor Saleem Reshamwala worked with the Portobelo Beat Making Lab students to create with to create this “Diablos” Music Video. The students helped to produce the beat, write the lyrics and help develop the concept for the music video. The song was created at La Escuelita del Ritmo, and inspired by a local festival tradition called “Festival de los Diablos y Congos”.
In 2012, Renee Alexander Craft, Oronike Odeleye, and Jeronimo Chiari interviewed Comparsa Barrio Fino band members Heraldo Eucebio De Hoyos (band leader), Abdiel Valdez, Eric Blanquicet, Gustavo Esquina and Angelo Esquina to discuss the meaning and purpose of the new cultural innovation in Portobelo, Panama, which they worked to create–an amazing community-based band called “Comparsa Barrio Fino.” This video was produced by Digital Portobelo in collaboration with Comparsa Barrio Fino and Creative Currents Artist Collaboration.
The videography was shoot by Andrew Synowiez, Roni Nicole Henderson, Oronike Odeleye, Renee Alexander-Craft and Rachel Cotterman. Roni Nicole Henderson edited the video and Oronike Odeleye lead the editorial design.
On July 20, 2012, Andrew Synowiez videotaped a Comparsa Barrio Fino Jam Session in Portobleo, Panama in preparation for the above Comparsa Barrio Fino video. Comparsa Barrio Fino in a community-based band, which honors the cultural richness of town and region.