quinta-feira, 25 de setembro de 2014

The international ballroom Latin-american misrepresentation: thinking about a political perspective

Its already a paradigm of the common sense in a lot of other fields of study: when you want to understand other cultures, you should listen to them, and not to just make your own rules. Cultures are the result of a legacy of experience. So, its to that experience that we should recur when we want to understand them. The collective scream of academia against the arrogance of logocentric and imperialist cultures happened in gender studies, African studies, translation studies in general and a lot others. Its time for us to speak for own body, say the women. Its time for us to tell our own history, say the black. In this intellectual context, the presence of a world dance federation that explicitly feels pressed and harassed every time someone ask for them to justify their free adoption and gratuitous adulteration of latin-american cultures, should be a call for scandal. We are not used to go political about dance. But the fact that same federation and its members do not feel quite willing to study and listen to these cultures should sound the alarm for a persistent type of colonialism. The deep roots of this attempt of colonization becomes vivid when they abandon their mere indifference and adopt the more forward maneuver of putting themselves above all discussion, for the simple fact that they feel like the owners of the dance fundamentals. Some of them have the audacity to say that the original afro-latin-american dances are "ugly". Obviously, they do not even know what they mean by that, and to say that something is ugly do not make anything clear, except the fact that they have a entrenched prejudice, and are blind to other forms of art expression, even thought these are the kind of art expression they should listen the most. Of course we should not ignore the great degree of scare and insecurity behind this approach of negligence and pretentious independence. We can almost render solidarity to their fear, when they have to find courage and energy to build their whole structure of art out of an emptiness,  without any recognition from the original cultures. We could almost understand their aggressiveness and despite when we think about how difficult must be to fight against the marvelously flexibility and untidiness of the body expression of an Afro-american children. They are cornered by a very compelled case against them. But if you ask whether that`s enough reason for them to simply try to turn the table, and arrogantly say "oh, no, these children can`t dance, we are the real technical dancers", so, well, i would say that they are to blame for this conflict. And nobody but them are the ones invasive and bellicose. The fact that Brazilians counter them with intolerance should not be a surprise. That`s exactly what they should expect after getting the name of part of the most familiar culture to every Brazilian and using it to baptize something radically distant from it. Even the most pacific and cool Brazilian would expect further explanations. That`s not along the things someone simply do freely, otherwise everyone could open break dance schools around the world, while teaching tap dance instead.

 Actually, nothing could be more convincing than the innocent and spontaneous laugh from a carioca children when they see a gringo international ballroom dancer and their "samba" essay. No matter how graduate he was, this dancer would feel lonely and helpless like an anthropologist scholar facing the real culture, when he is not able to appeal to the numb comfort of their textbooks, or run to the settled approval of their own teachers and judges. But this laugh has no discursive power, and it would fall under the vacuum of the history margin. International ballroom will continue to spread their version of dance with misleading nomenclature. The result is the impoverishment of the values that they once admired in the first place. Its hard to understand why, but the same prior passionate european filled with desire to learn the ginga and the heat spirit of Brazil and Caribbean, turn into dogmatic colonizers, all defensive, defending their right to shit their own rules over other cultures, and resisting against the simple call for them to start listening and learn. Real study is something that demands to get out of your comfort zone. In the case of latin-american dances, there is a whole universe of expression to be discovered. The suggestion that international dancers would have any technical advantage due to their ballet influences and tradition is at the minimum naive, and the worst case scenario, a blow of pure prejudice. Its also a misunderstanding of what "technique" means: the technicality should reflect the spirit and personality of the dance, and not the other way around. Latin-american dances are not only independent sources of techniques, but also sources of techniques that  have matured alongside with decades of exposure to the music, the feeling, the spirit and the personality that created the singular beat and swing approach of each dance - samba, rumba, tango, etc. To try to impose ballet structures to read this mature and independent traditions is ridiculous, to use the best word to described it. To invoke ballet or waltz as the great advantages of international ballroom dancers to dance Latin is the same as to invoke classical musical education as a edge to play jazz. It could be a contribution, but never an edge. 

In this blog i will reinforce the necessity to think about this dance colonization as a political outrageous, something that would not be tolerate in music, literature, but, for some reason, it is still common in dance. One of my aims is to educate about the technical richness of Brazilian dances, recovering our confidence to speak for ourselves and for our own culture. This way i can contribute to the latin-american dance studies that still do not exist, but that is necessary to set us free from the discursive imperialism of the international community. 

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