To explore the role of African and Afro Caribbean culture in modern dance in New York.

Dance is an expression of culture, yet at the same time it is constrained by culture. This week we explored the role of African and Afro Caribbean culture in modern dance in America. We examined the Afro-Caribbean slave roots that were a part of modern dance and the ways that modern dance movements and themes reflected daily life activities. How modern dance reflected issues of black pride, self-expression, and identity. We also explored, compared and contrasted Jazz, improvisation and modern dance themes of social justice and activism in response to a historically racist American society.

Some of our Activities:

Reflecting on quotes like “Modern dance captured the heart and essence of a culture and respect for African-American themes.”

Creating a poem based on who we are and where we come from. Be it our heritage or our mother’s kitchen.

We self reflected on the importance of Dance in our lives and in New York as a society.

We also Interpreted and created modern dance themes of social justice and activism that echo the response of minorities to what some people would call a racist American society.

Some of the questions we will continue to ponder after this week are:

  • Do you think dance can be an effective tool to further social justice? How?
  • Do you think music can be an effective tool to further social justice? Can you think of some examples?
  • Do you think art can be an effective tool to further social justice? In what ways is this possible?

Our daily Dance routine:

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Each morning as we danced we saw some of those early African and Caribbean dance moves as part of the modern music steps that we see on television and games everyday.

We had a good time moving around and realizing how modern dance choreographers incorporated different aspects of everyday life in various cultures into their creations.

We danced as part as an expression of culture, yet at the same time it is we are all different due to our family backgrounds and culture.

Steping into it!

During our routines we talked at times about cultural pride, self-expression, and identity.

We also just laughed and enjoyed the simple lesson of movement, practice and enjoyment.

Our Trip to Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona:

Entering the museum

If you want to check out Satchmo

One of the most celebrated and beloved jazz musicians, trumpeter and vocalist Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong (1901–1971), had hit recordings for 50 years, appeared in more than 30 motion pictures, and performed all over the world. His music is still heard everywhere today, yet few people know of his life outside the spotlight. After the death of Armstrong’s wife, Lucille, in 1983, archivists were astonished to find that their Queens, New York, house held a treasure trove of home-recorded reel-to-reel tapes, photographs, scrapbooks, papers, gold-plated trumpets, and more. These materials have been preserved in the Louis Armstrong Archives at Queens college and the house museum. Satchmo has influenced jazz & hip-hop and therefore its modern delivery and dances. Some call him the uncle of hip-hop. Here are our pics:

Dancing in the rain

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Dennis and the Satchmo

The place
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We Also watched:

Dance explores social justice since it examines the history of multiculturalism, Just like identity people have misconceptions about, or disregard for differences in culture, gender, ability, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. Dominant arguments for maintaining status quo perspectives such as scarcity of resources, accreditation standards, persist to define what is and what is not American. Change is movement and movement is dance.

Modern Salsa and Hip Hop with a social justice twist

Integration of African and American dance
Documentary about Afro and Afro Caribbean Roots of dance.

Our trip to Harlem

The Harlem Renaissance was a vibrant time that was characterized by innovations in art, literature, music, poetry, and dance. In this unit, students conduct Internet research, work with an interactive Venn diagram tool, and create a museum exhibit that highlights the work of selected artists, musicians, and poets. The goal of this unit is to help students understand the historical context of the Harlem Renaissance and what kind of impact it had on African Americans in the United States. Critical thinking, creativity, and interdisciplinary connections are emphasized.

Heart of Harlem 125th street

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Our Final Performance


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