Iris De Britowroteon February 15, 2009 at 1:42pm
Dance evolves, so it will naturally fuse with the world currents, migration, society and artistic fluidity. Probably, one of the few dances that has maintained it's basic chore the most is Ballet. But we’ll get back to that.
Click through to continue this excellent article. The point of it that struck a chord with me was that dance form musical interpretations of it evolve. And it's to be expected and OK. I've been saying that for years.
This writer, Iris De Brito......I have no idea who she is. But it's pretty obvious she knows her stuff on this subject.
Thanks to Ana....one of our kizomba experts over on www.kizombadancer.com .
However, there are many dances that can still be traced to their origin, fairly well, so to start using names just because its commercial advantageous will always cause a stir, since most of those dances reflect a culture which, however much in Diaspora we may be, we still look upon to identify ourselves with.
Say, Salsa: The name is simply a commercial term that Fania Records employed to be able to sell more records which included rhythms such as Bolero, Cha-cha & Rumba.It is now identifiable as a dance style.
Zouk: there's no denying that Zouk originates from the French Caribbean. The fusion between Zouk and R&B that Lindale talks about was inevitable in modern times and they call it now Ghetto Zouk or R&Zouk. R&B artists have mixed Latin flavas in their repertoire before and no, no one is complaining. The R&B artists haven’t called it anything else though…
Regaeton is the same: I’m sure some Jamaican people got shocked with this style, but the youth is happy. It represents their mix, their current life experience.
The Dances that accompany these music genres have evolved also, but always followed what the music was doing.
With Lambada, it appears to be a stranger set-up, since Kaoma & Beto Barbosa stopped producing, there hasn’t existed a music genre such as "Lambada Music".
So what comes first, the music or the dance?
Someone with a good hear for music and dance decided they could dance Lambada to Zouk music, and why not? Good on them.
But, to call it Zouk, you will be bastardising a whole culture of music that has it’s own place and evolution. So the middle ground, calling the Dance LambaZouk is probably a good compromise.
On another note I must say I have seen Lambada dancers dancing Lambada to Arabic music and all sorts, so it seems to be quite a flexible dance, without such deep roots, but perhaps I’m wrong.
I love to see dancers such as Berg, Solange, Jo, etc, since whatever they are doing, it looks just beautiful.
Another point that we need to take into account is the fact that most of these Social dances: Zouk, Lambada, Kizomba,Salsa are not written down and properly recorded. Like most Afro-Latin traditions, they are passed on by generations and it’s about who tells the best story or does some research to back up their statements.
In Kizomba: We know that it has influences from "Semba"( not Samba)- a traditional dance from Angola and Zouk. But many people ask me, where does the Tangoish element fits in? Again, the history is murky.
Some say the Elite of the society in Luanda- Angola would not dance such traditional dances or street flavours, so Tango being the Dance of the times, it got fused with whatever was happening. Or maybe, some smart guy with fancy footwork and great style started it all?
There is a rumour about a few dancers of the time that when they danced they "wrote on the floor" which is why Kizomba has so much fancy footwork as opposed to Zouk ( i.e. French caribbean Zouk...)
These social dances evolve with not much of a written record or support organizations and create a kind of "Free market" where anyone can call it whatever name with no major repercussions. No one would ever dream of doing that with Ballet, for example, since there are so many official international organizations preserving this style.
Last year I assisted a workshop led by The French Caribbean association in London and I could swear, the steps they were doing were exactly like Bachata! I was in shock! I thought it was totally amazing though.
It’s beautiful and tremendously humble to be able to acknowledge that our cultures are not so isolated after all, but share elements with other countries that we would never dream of in the first place. So even if we lived in an island and developed something so unique, it may still have roots somewhere else completely. We are more similar then we think!
London, makes us confront theses issues even more, since living here exposes you to the whole world and in all its colours and variants. Its’ the artists that are creative and brave enough to develop and fuse their ideas that push the tide and quite frankly the media is always behind, trying to catch up.
I mean, even in current dance programs on the BBC you won’t see Salsa represented properly. I know I ‘ve been there and tried. Researchers can’t be bothered and they don’t want to spend the money in getting any copyrights to use current songs.
So you end up listening to complete crap on TV and saying to the million masses, this is Salsa, or this is Zouk, it’s all about making money, not artistic or cultural ethics.
Very few times you have a real chance to show what’s what and for those in which these dances are not part of their culture, the commercial factor is far higher that any cultural consideration and they don't feel so attached to how they describe things as long as it sells.
The positive side of this is of course to be able to bring awareness to dances which are generally underground even if you start it badly. Personally I prefer to start well, just feel its more respectful and harmonious overall.
For some though, just learning a few steps will do just fine for their 'night out'. But in a world where the cultural pot enlarges everyday, we want to preserve the chore of our culture and identity in order to identify ourselves from the collective whole. So, suddenly, these things become quite important.
What do you think?
Iris De Brito