Visions of Racial Democracy and Spectacles of Interracial Eros: Black-and-White Duets in the National Ballet of Cuba
Lester Tomé, PhD - Director, MFA Program in Dance Smith College
Friday, April 13, 2018
Umrath Hall, Room 140
Free and Open to the Public!
Upon the advent of the Cuban Revolution and following its reform of race relations, the National Ballet of Cuba sought to transform a dance form until then equated with European culture and white bodies into an artistic expression that reflected the nation's African
heritage and multiracial composition. As an outcome of that troupe’s racial integration, by the 1970s interracial partnering became a distinctive feature of Cuban ballet. This presentation focuses on interracial duets as choreo-erotic spectacles that were ambiguous ideological signifiers. The duets of black and white dancers simultaneously exposed and concealed historical taboos of interracial love and miscegenation. Through these performances, choreographers and dancers romanticized the discourses of mulatez (racial hybridity) and ajíaco (cultural stew), which the state deployed to legitimize the false claim that the Revolution had eliminated racism.