Yvonne Daniel

“Corporeal Consequences of Dancing Divinity”

“Intellectual knowledge without concomitant integration of somatic, intuitive understanding and the spiritual wisdom their combination yields is ‘disembodied’ knowledge. […] Performance, the arts, and spirituality operate to correct and adjust disembodied knowledge.”

Yvonne Daniel, Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahian Candomblé

Photo courtesy of Yvonne Daniel.

Dancing and music-making are central and almost universal among African Diaspora communities. As Africans were dispersed, so was dance/music performance emphasized in new cultural settings of the Americas. An examination of the persistent dances in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Lukumí, and Brazilian Candomblé demonstrates the consequences of transcendence and bodily and spiritual interconnectedness. Today, as dancing worshipers perform rituals based on varied African cultural amalgams, they are educated within a ritual classroom; dancing and music-making worshipers are encouraged to model paths of individual dignity and social decency; and the power of ritual dancing continues.

Yvonne Daniel is Professor Emerita of Dance and Afro-American Studies at Smith College. She taught dance technique and anthropology and is a specialist in Circum-Caribbean societies, cross-cultural dance performance, and social inequality. Her books include: Rumba: Dance and Social Change in Contemporary Cuba (1995), Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahian Candomblé (2005), which won the de la Torre Bueno prize for best dance research 2006 from the Society for Dance History Scholars, and Caribbean and Atlantic Diaspora Dance: Igniting Citizenship (2011). She has published numerous juried articles and solicited chapters and encyclopedia entries, and has produced four documentary videos on dance and African-based religions. She has been a Ford Foundation Fellow (1991-92), a Rockefeller Fellow (2005-06), and a Visiting Scholar at the Women’s Leadership Institute of Mills College (1999-2000), and has been in residence at the Smithsonian Institution and the Center for Black Music Research in Chicago. Earlier in her career, Dr. Daniel performed with the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional of Cuba and as Guest Artist for several Latin American dance companies. Over the years, she choreographed and staged many original works that reflected her research, using Caribbean specialists, dance faculty colleagues, as well as students. Dr. Daniel received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley (1989), after completing a B.A. in Music (piano) at California State University at Hayward (1972) and an M.A. in Dance at Mills College (1975). She has four sons and ten grandchildren.

Date: Monday, September 26, 2011

Time: 7PM

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Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education
The City College of New York
25 Broadway, 7th floor (in front of the bull statue at Wall Street)
New York NY 10004
(212) 925-6625, ext 0

Subways: 4 or 5 to Bowling Green; R or 1 to Rector Street; J or Z to Broad Street

Sponsors and Special Thanks:
This talk is possible thanks to major funding from the City College of New York at the City University of New York (CCNY, CUNY). Major funding was also provided by the City SEEDS Award, and with support from the Offices of the President and Provost and President Lisa Staiano-Coico. We would also like to acknowledge support at CCNY from the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education, the Department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, the M.A. in the Study of the Americas, and the Department of Media and Communication Arts. Additional thanks go to the Transnational and Transcolonial Caribbean Studies Research Group (TTCSRG) and Kaiama L. Glover.