In Season 2, we explore different Afro-Latin and African rhythms we encounter while social dancing. We discuss the history of the rhythm as well as the movement associated with it, and discuss how we can continue to center and recognize its Black roots. Each rhythm episode is accompanied by one Were You Listening? episode.
We take a trip across the ocean, away from the Americas all the way to Africa to discuss a popular rhythm in our dance scene – Kizomba! Our guests Rui Djassi Moracén and Kimberly Nicole help us dig in to the history of Kizomba and the socio-political and cultural context within Angola where it developed. We also discuss Kizomba’s musical influences, how the dance came to be, and the rhythm’s international reach.
In this episode we talk about the origins and history of merengue, its role as the national rhythm of the Dominican Republic under dictator Rafael Trujillo, and its diffusion all over the Latin American and Latino markets in the U.S. including its mixtures with Hip Hop. Of course, since we’re dancers, we also explore how the Black roots of merengue informed how the rhythm is danced.
We talk about the development of the rhythm and its musical influences as well as the political and social events that marked its evolution. We also talk about bachata dance and about the role of sensual bachata on the diffusion of traditional Dominican bachata. We close the episode with reflections from local bachater@s regarding the lack of explicit race-driven discussions on the contributions of black people to the rhythm of bachata.
We explore our favorite blend of Afro-Latin rhythms: Salsa! Our exploration includes a historical contextualization of the development of salsa, highlighting the role of Afro-Cubans and Afro-Latin@s broadly as well as the rhythmical richness inherited from Africa. Our guests provide a description of the introduction and diffusion of salsa in the United States and discuss the need to recenter Blackness and the role that dancers in the Afro-Latin dance scene play in the preservation of the roots of this beloved blend we call salsa.
We explore Afro-Cuban rhythms. From basic historical events that played an important role in their development and popularity, to the connection between the dances and the religious practices they often derive from, to the ways in which dancers are encouraged to approach these folkloric gems centering blackness and the contributions of Afro-Cubans. Our guests are Afro-Cuban folklore expert, choreographer and dancer Marisol Blanco, and choreographers and practitioners Serena Spears and James and Peiwei Cobo.
In the words of our guest Pablo Guerreiro, samba is a connection between heaven, earth and humans, it’s a movement, it’s what transforms, what makes everything. We explore historical events that played an important role in the development of samba, consolidating it as a symbol of Brazilian identity. We also talk to samba dancers Charis Railey and Adriana Blanco about their experience with this Afro-Brazilian rhythm.