Presenting, "Embodying Intimacy and Distance in AfroCaribbean Sacred Folkloric Dance,” as part of the panel, Migrating Roots: Translating Caribbean CorpoREALITIES, for the 40th annual Caribbean Studies Association conference The Caribbean in an Age of Global Apartheid in New Orleans, LA, May 25-29. My colleagues include Tania Isaac, Adanna Jones, and Makeda Thomas.
This panel seeks to use dance and scholarship to bring into the center the multiple ways Caribbean bodies translate themselves across contesting histories and shifting borders. Inspired by communal partnership and intimacy in Haitian and Cuban sacred contexts, yet always conscious of her ambivalent position as a privileged outsider with access to that community, Ann Mazzocca mixes and recombines movements to evoke her memory, imagination, and knowledge of these danced experiences and traditions. Makeda Thomas addresses the value of the dancing Africanist presence in traditional Amerindian Mas’ performance. Specifically, she raises questions about the embodiment of blackness and the layered meanings it takes on in this in mas’ performance. Tania Isaac works to translate her academic, artistic, and Caribbean selves in to and out of words and movement. Thusly, she aims to distill the satisfaction that we crave from the freedom to move in any form, idiom, culture, or location and marry it with the conscious ideas of how dance, movement, art, and thought shapes our sense of being. Lastly, Adanna Jones renders visible the specific contexts that inform bodies that twerk from bodies that wine, in spite the fact that both dances emphasize gyrating hips and buttocks, as well was black-Atlantic histories. Hence, in her attempt to accomplish this, she resurrects the ghosts of the nineteenth century jamette of Trinidad to shed some light on the bodily work being done by today’s winin’ Caribbean Carnival reveler. From Afro-Folclórico to Carnival to the concert stage and back, the embodied translations of the Caribbean diasporic body remains rooted yet mutable. In turn, our goal is to embody the multiplicity, layeredness, and schizophrenia of the Caribbean experience through theory and movement. In consequence, the multivalent ways Caribbean bodies co-choreograph and negotiate the regulatory forces of race, gender, class, sexuality, and (trans-)nationhood are further laid bare.