Category: The Diaspora Dances

Brazilian Breakdancing

When you think about breakdancing, images of kids popping, locking, and wind-milling, hand- standing, shoulder-rolling, and hand-jumping, might come to mind. And those kids might be city kids dancing in vacant lots and playgrounds. Now, New England kids of all classes and cultures are getting a chance to practice break-dancing in their school gyms and then go learn about it in a teaching unit designed by Veronica …

Salsa Dancers from Cali, Colombia Hop Onto the World Stage

Once, people of the ocean, from the coast, moved to the valley, hoping to put the Andes between them and Colombia’s decades of killing. Now, 28 of their grandchildren stood on the cusp of history. No, they danced on it. Their $2-a-week-salsa dance classes and rehearsals at Luis Carlos Caicedo’s Nueva Dimension academy on the gritty outskirts of Cali had paid off. The group of grade-schoolers and teens had scored an invitation …

Cuba’s Tumba Francesa Diaspora Dance, Colonial Legacy

I arrive at Santiago de Cuba’s Teatro Oriente to see a small crowd of locals and tourists waiting in front to buy tickets. We are here to see a performance by Ballet Folklórico Cutumba, one of eastern Cuba’s premier folkloric dance troupes. Although the theater is run down and no longer has electricity or running water, its former elegance is apparent. As we enter, we see lush but tattered velvet drapes flank the stage and ornate architectural …

Danza Galesa en la Patagonia

Tal vez sorprenda al lector el título de este artículo, como también sorprende a todo aquel desprevenido viajero que llega al Valle Inferior del Río Chubut, en la Patagonia Argentina. Encontrar nombres de pueblos y zonas rurales en idioma galés, niños que aprenden el idioma desde su primera infancia, jóvenes que bailan danzas galesas, alguna bandera blanca y verde con un enorme dragón rojo flameando en un mástil; afinadas voces …

Tropical Interludes: The Role of the Rumbera in Mexican Cine de la Época Dorada

In a popular song from the start of the mambo boom (late 1940s-early 1950s), Cuban musician Benny Moré flirtatiously described the dancing talent of Mexican and Cuban women. He sang in his golden voice, “Pero qué bonito y sabroso bailan el mambo las mexicanas, mueven la cintura y los hombros igualito a las cubanas.” (“Mexican women dance mambo so wonderfully and so full of rhythm, they move their waists and shoulders …

Dancing in the Diaspora: El Baile de los Negritos

English + EspañolDance unites Yucuaiquín, a small town in eastern El Salvador, with the city of Somerville in eastern Massachusetts. Traditionally a city of Greek, Irish, Italian, and Portuguese immigrants, the only quality Somerville had in common with Yucuaiquín before the 1980s was a population with vibrant Catholic beliefs and traditions. The hundreds of Yucuaiquinenses that found their way to Somerville in the past …

The Fun of Forró

I went with my friend Denise and her boyfriend to the Gafieira Estudantina for a night of forró. Last year, I used to see the Estudantina’s hand-painted dance banner hanging from its second-floor balcony, whenever I was walking around the Praca Tiradentes in Rio de Janeiro. But I’d never been up there. The Estudantina, it turns out, is one of Rio’s old ballroom dance halls (gafieiras)—founded in 1932. Denise told me her mother used to …

Bodies That Sing: Forró Music in a Traditional Setting

We arrive at a doorway hidden in the shadow of a 24-hour convenience store, and dig crumpled bills from our pockets, surrendering them to the barrel-chested man in a tight black tank top. The scene is a reminder of what an inspired idea it was to leave my purse at home; the plan is to dance all night long. Having paid, we step carefully down a winding staircase and perch on tipsy-toed stools at the bar with a great view of the …

Reinventing the Dancing Body: The Impact of Japanese Culture on Brazilian Dances

The interest in Japanese culture from food to dance has deep roots among us in Brazil as we have the biggest Japanese colony in the world, outside of Japan itself. Therefore, the images of Japanese culture are much more than a landscape to be contemplated. Once a friend who was born in a small city in the interior of São Paulo told me that he only discovered that the word “konnichiwa” (hello) was Japanese and not Portuguese …

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