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Creolizing Contradance in the Caribbean

Creolizing Contradance in the Caribbean

Edited by Peter Manuel
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Creolizing Contradance in the Caribbean
    Book Description:

    The contradance and quadrille, in their diverse forms, were the most popular, widespread, and important genres of creole Caribbean music and dance in the nineteenth century. Throughout the region they constituted sites for interaction of musicians and musical elements of different racial, social, and ethnic origins, and they became crucibles for the evolution of genres like the Cuban danzón and son, the Dominican merengue, and the Haitian mereng.

    Creolizing Contradance in the Caribbeanis the first book to explore this phenomenon in detail and with a pan-regional perspective. Individual chapters by respected area experts discuss the Spanish, French, and English-speaking Caribbean, covering musical and choreographic features, social dynamics, historical development and significance, placed in relation to the broader Caribbean historical context. This groundbreaking text fills a significant gap in studies of Caribbean cultural history and of social dance.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-736-7
    Subjects: Music, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. 1 Introduction: Contradance and Quadrille Culture in the Caribbean
    (pp. 1-50)

    A region as linguistically, ethnically, and culturally diverse as the Caribbean has never lent itself to being epitomized by a single music or dance genre, be it rumba or reggae. Nevertheless, in the nineteenth century a set of contradance and quadrille variants flourished so extensively throughout the Caribbean Basin that they enjoyed a kind of predominance, as a common cultural medium through which melodies, rhythms, dance figures, and performers all circulated, both between islands and between social groups within a given island. Hence, if the latter twentieth century in the region came to be the age of Afro-Caribbean popular music...

  4. 2 Cuba: From Contradanza to Danzón
    (pp. 51-112)

    If in the last century Cuban music has been known primarily for the mambo, the chachachá, and thesonthat generated salsa, in the nineteenth century by far the most predominant and distinctivelynationalmusic was the contradanza, in the diverse forms it took over the course of its extended heyday. The contradanza (or “danza,” as it was later called) was also the era’s most seminal genre, parenting the habanera that graced European opera and music theater, the elegant figures of thetumba francesa’s masóndance, and, albeit ultimately, the mambo and chachachá themselves, which evolved from the danza’s direct...

  5. 3 Puerto Rico: The Rise and Fall of the Danza as National Music
    (pp. 113-154)

    Present-day Puerto Ricans live in a world throbbing to the beat of reggaetón, salsa,bomba, plena, bachata, rock, Dominican merengue, Afro-Cuban music, and, at times, the romantic and fatalistic bolero that alternates with Latin Americanbaladas. Quite rare today would be anyone who recalls hearing of the contradanza, the variant of the European figure dance that was practiced in the first half of the nineteenth century in Puerto Rico. However, most Puerto Ricans would certainly recognize a close relative and creolized derivative—that is, the local danza—especially in the form of Puerto Rico’s national hymn, “La borinqueña,” which is...

  6. 4 The Dominican Republic: Danza and the Contradanced Merengue
    (pp. 155-187)

    In 1890 Puerto Rican poet Lola Rodríguez de Tió wrote the oft-quoted lines, “Cuba and Puerto Rico are the twin wings of the same bird; they receive flowers or bullets in the same heart.” Rodríguez de Tió was referring to the close cultural and political ties between the two islands, which remained sister colonies of Spain until 1898, many decades after the rest of Latin America had broken free. For its part, the Dominican Republic (or Santo Domingo, as it was called prior to 1844) in 1797 fell out of Spanish sovereignty, which was only intermittently and ineffectually restored later....

  7. 5 Creole Quadrilles of Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, and St. Lucia
    (pp. 188-208)

    On a late October evening in Laplaine, a village in southern Dominica, I was watching a quadrille performance during the selection rounds of the Heritage Festival, an annual contest that celebrates Dominica’s culture. All contestants were members of cultural groups representing villages or communities from the southeast district that had been succeeding each other on stage in separate sets of adults and children to perform the quadrille, themazouk, the bèlè, and other national dances. It was already late into the night when a new set of adult quadrille dancers came on stage. I was admiring the dancers’ stances and...

  8. 6 Haiti: Tracing the Steps of the Méringue and Contredanse
    (pp. 209-230)

    The contredanse was the foundation of many of the social dances that emerged in the Caribbean in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The degree of cross-fertilization between different types of social dance that are separated by political and linguistic boundaries, however, makes the task of tracing the origins of specific dance musics difficult and ultimately, perhaps, futile. By seeing musical genres, especially music associated with couple dances, as related through a shared historical process (if not actual lineage) and set of traits that may or may not be present in all dance versions, it may be preferable to ask different...

  9. 7 The English-Speaking Caribbean: Re-embodying the Colonial Ballroom
    (pp. 231-270)

    The relationship between people of African descent in the Anglophone Caribbean and Western dance reaches back into the eighteenth century, if not earlier. At any rate, this is when colonial writers first began taking note of slaves adopting the music and dances of European society. Since that time, European dances in this part of the Caribbean have received considerable attention, and perhaps none as much as the quadrille. In the literature of the Anglophone Caribbean, the quadrille is treated more frequently than any other colonial social dance as an index of European influence. However, its popularity—like that of any...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 271-272)
  11. Contents of the Compact Disc
    (pp. 273-274)
  12. Index
    (pp. 275-281)