The BATUKE! festival started out of its creative director Iris de Brito’s passion for the music and dance of Lusophone countries, and their realization that there is a special rapport and connection between the Portuguese speaking African countries, a recognition of common experiences through music and dance. Moving beyond ad hoc events based on invitations to individual artists, it has created an annual platform in the UK where these artists, young and old, can meet and share their common heritage. Batuke aims to be a self-sustaining venture. Now in its 5th year, Iris’s aim is to improve it further, continue to improve standards, reach out to local communities as well as international audiences, and make the event one not to be missed in the social dancer’s calendar.
Iris is the creative mind behind BATUKE! The director of London’s Studio Afro-Latino, she is Portuguese of Angolan heritage long resident in the UK. An accomplished dancer of a range of Latin styles, from salsa to lambada to samba, Iris has been at the vanguard of pushing cultural and historical understanding of the Angolan dances currently so popular internationally. Iris directs the show and creates the general feel and flow of the event to the last detail, including coming up with the name of the festival (a play on the Luso-African dance form Batuque). She works on BATUKE! all year round.