The Carnival Exchange Program

The Carnival Exchange Program

By Angela Hernandez

Click aqui para español- >Proyecto de intecambio Carnaval

When it comes to Mardi Gras, local dance group Dile Que Nola, likes to celebrate it “a lo Cubano.” For the past three years, the rueda de casino group has worked to bridge the gap between New Orleans and Cuba through The Carnival Exchange Project.

According to Dile Que Nola’s Executive Director Nicole Goldin, the Carnival Exchange Project was created to celebrate and educate the community on Cuban culture. The five-day festival is not only geared towards education through dance but also as a means of cultural exchange between Cubans and New Orleanians. At the end of the festival, attendees parade on Mardi Gras day as one krewe during the Zulu parade.

"The project was an idea of my friend Abril Baloney. She has a company called Diaspora Travel Experiences and she has been hosting intercultural exchanges with Cuba,” said Goldin. Baloney’s idea for the first year was to bring a school from Cuba that would teach the Cuban folkloric dances. In return, New Orleanians would travel to Cuba to share their culture.

Although The Carnival Exchange Project’s inaugural year was a success, the festival hit a snag in its second year due to immigration sanctions. This made it difficult to bring one of the Cuban instructors. Sponsors also backed out, causing a financial strain, but the initiative continues.

Now in its third year, Goldin is hoping to bring instructors from Cuba if they can find sponsorships, and she encourages business owners, organization leaders and individuals to consider one of their different sponsorship levels to make the exchange with Cuba happen. The Carnival Exchange Project is a 501(c)(3) organization and the sponsorships are tax deductible.

If she can’t secure sponsorships, Goldin is determined to continue with the project and her alternative plan is to bring in Cuban nationals who reside in the United States or neighboring countries. “Regardless, we are going to bring Cuban talent, but ideally we would to give people from Cuba an opportunity to leave the island and share their traditions and dance skills with us,” said Goldin.

During the festival, attendees can expect several dance workshops and dance socials with the unique opportunity to truly get to know and teach one another. Instructors have been carefully selected not just because of their dance level but also for their ability to foster a sense of community.

There will be a daily beginners’ track for attendees who have never taken a dance class before. In preparation for the parade's choreography, Goldin plans on releasing the video tutorials in mid-December for those who are coming from out of state. Locals will be able to join in the practices in town at a location to be determined.

Those who would like to participate in the Carnival Exchange Project can buy their passes on their website at thecarnivalexchangeproject.com. Passes range from a $20 party pass to a $200 full experience pass.

You can find sponsorship information on the website and contact Nicole Goldin, by emailing her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Last modified onTuesday, 18 December 2018 10:30
Angela Hernandez

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Publisher's Note

Ready for the outdoors!

Although we do not have very well defined seasons, the weather changes enough to create different vibes in and around the city.

The moderate Spring weather accompanied with sunny clear skies is inviting to get back to the outdoors and be more active. The backyard also gets more use in the form of the very Louisiana tradition of the crawfish boil, which we learn more about in our food section.

Short day-trips are perfect during Spring and the Northshore offers some amazing destinations for nature and food lovers. Just sitting down on the bank of the Tchefuncte River, looking at the boats pass by can be a relaxing change of pace and scenery.

In this edition, we visit the Northshore to explore some of the Latin restaurants in the area. We will be coming back to enjoy the different places and activities that the Northshore has to offer. St. Tammany hosts a vineyard, a safari, strawberry and blueberry patches, breweries, swamp tours, museums, kayaking, and tubing, among so many other interesting things. The Northshore is the perfect destination when you need a little getaway.

But for now, we prepare to get outdoors in New Orleans to enjoy the great music during French Quarter Fest and to see the national and international superstars coming to Jazzfest. See you out there!

AnaMaria