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Black Feminist Rumba Pedagogies
Dance Research Journal  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-10-25, DOI: 10.1017/s014976772100019x
Maya J. Berry

Rumba guaguancó, a sub-genre of Afro-Cuban popular dance, has been widely defined as a dance of courtship, characterized as a male pursuit of a woman's sex. The article analyzes alternative meanings of the sub-genre articulated in the pedagogical practices of black women rumba dancers. Insights were gleaned from the author's own dance training in Havana while conducting original ethnographic research between 2009 and 2018. What the author terms “a black feminist choreographic aptitude” taught by rumberas (women rumba dancers) speaks to the pointedly gendered valances of worsening racialized class inequality in contemporary Cuba. Building on Blanco Borelli's theory of “hip(g)nosis,” the article interrogates the racialized and gendered discourses historically reproduced through dominant definitions of rumba, limiting women of African descent to sexual objects. The study argues for increased critical attention to pedagogy as a hermeneutical tool, centering those subjects historically marginalized from the production of knowledge about their bodies.