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African dance in England: spirituality and continuity

By Bob Ramdhanie

Abstract

Between the 17th and 20th centuries, the British misunderstood African cultural practices and reported on those in derogatory terms. With other European nations they projected Africans as ‘savages’ without any cultural traditions and consistently devalued traditional African religions and dances. Those views have seeped into the psychology of the British mentality and specifically, may have negatively influenced African dance development in the UK.\ud \ud This thesis seeks to address those issues through a re-examination of the literature and a re-appraisal of Africa’s religions and dance forms. It will illustrate that in spite of he continuous attempts to decimate African cultural expression, Africa’s cultural practices survived and re-emerged in the Caribbean through slavery and through vibrate practice. The adaptation of the forms in their new environment, especially through adopting some aspects of Christian worship, nurtured alternative ways that later enabled the forms to find expression, as theatrical dance, in the UK.\ud \ud The thesis is informed by international field trips, through the use of video and Internet sources, from attendances at African and Caribbean cultural events, through a wide range of secondary sources and from interviews spanning over twelve years. It is presented in two main sections. section one includes the Introduction and chapters One and Two. The Introduction provides a backdrop of current issues in African dance development and chapters One and Two provide a framework of African cultural practice on the continent and in the Caribbean, indicating how European perceptions of the people and their practices skewed the truth. Chapters Three and Four provide a detailed account of African dance development over the past fifth years through the activities of performance companies and support agencies. Chapter Five investigates dance development in the UK, specifically focusing on the works of two London-based choreographers and exploring how their spiritually determines their practice

Topics: GV, GN
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2600

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