Dances at the Center of Social Discourse: from Europe Through the Caribbean to Latin America

Jose Lammoglia


It is common to hear how song has being used an instrument of social protest. Dance has helped bring about social change in several parts of the world; however its contributions are almost ignored by history. Tango Argentino and Sociedades de Tumba Francesa are considered Patrimony of Humanity. Tango, originally a social dance of the lower classes, its execution considered obscene by the Argentinean upper class, had to withstand Papal judgment. Sociedades de Tumba Francesa developed in Haiti and in time came to be associated with the Duvalier regime. Today they survive in Cuba, after enduring racial discrimination in the 1940s and 1950s. La Jarana Yucateca still serves as a bond between the white and the mestizo members of Yucatecan society, a gesture of gratitude from the first to the latter for their solidarity during the War of Castes. La Danza de los Seises in the Cathedral of Sevilla remains a notable exception of religious dances within Catholic worship, otherwise banned from Catholic services for being considered sinful. La Cueca, Chile’s national folk dance has been performed by the wives, and daughters of the desaparecidos in protest for political injustice. The origins and present state of Brazilian Capoeira is an example how the social discourse can continue and modify itself to meet the needs of time. Tambu from Curaçao is a present day case of oppression/victory over the dominant Eurocentric culture. And Dominican Merengueis a kaleidoscope of ways in which dance can be used within the social discourse. By placing these dances in the social context where they helped bring about awareness or change the research adds depth to dance, often considered inconsequential and frivolous by western society.

Palabras clave

Dance; Protest; Religion; Nationalism; Racism

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