Pablo Batista | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN |

World-renowned percussionist Pablo Batista debuted his epic El Viaje: The Journey production at the Temple Performing Arts Center in June, combining music and dance traditions from around to world to tell a universal story of forced emigration. WHYY’s Friday Arts took their cameras to the final weeks of rehearsals and captured behind-the-scenes footage of the musicians and dancers, as well as an in-depth interview with Batista.

Between shots of dress rehearsals and backstage preparations Batista provides a narration that describes the roots each artistic decision and the personal path that led him to create such a celebratory and exploratory piece of art.

About the production, Batista says:

“This is an epic story that could really be applicable to almost everyone. You can apply it to the exodus of the Jews out of Egypt. You can apply it to the slaves from Africa who were brought to the Americas, or the waves of Irish, Italian, Latino and other immigrant and refugee groups who migrated under difficult circumstances then, and even now. But you can also understand it from a personal perspective — as one who’s on a constant journey and struggle through life.”

Watch the behind-the-scenes video below and read more about El Viaje: The Journey here.