Skip to content

Scholar C. Daniel Dawson Lectures on African Aesthetics in the Diaspora; Performances by Martial Artists, Afro-Latin Dancers

An acrobatic conversation between two perpetually active bodies, Capoeirathe African-Brazilian martial art often described as the national sport of Brazilis one of the exciting expressions of aesthetic principles featured in the upcoming lecture and performance, Philosophy in Motion: Martial Arts and Dance From Around the Globe. Set to take place at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, November 26 at the Engelman Recital Hall, the event opens with a presentation by scholar C. Daniel Dawson called Fist Against Fist Is Irrational: The African Influence on Dance and Martial Arts in the Americas. Professor Dawson has lectured at Princeton University, Columbia University and the New School for Social Research, while also working as an arts administrator and consultant at the Caribbean Cultural Center, the Museum for African Art and the Smithsonian Institute.

The lecture focuses on the influence of Kongolese movement and physical culture on the development of Creole dance, music and martial arts in the Caribbean and Latin America. Central African cultures and philosophies introduced to the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade have made formative contributions to the national dances and music of the region, with the KiKongo language loaning familiar words like rumba, samba, tango, and cumbia to the region. Brazilian Capoeira comes from the same cultural matrix, descending directly from the Ngolo ceremony practiced in Angola.

Originally a guest lecture organized by Professor Thomas Desch-Obi (History) for his students, the event is now open to all interested members of the College community due to the support of the Weissman School. Dean Myrna Chase had the great idea to open it to the entire student body, with cultural performances highlighting the lecture content, said Professor Desch-Obi. The Black and Hispanic Studies department also contributed to the event, helping to recruit acclaimed Puerto Rican performers Yerba Buena.

Along with dancers and musicians, the event will also feature a selection of martial arts from different corners of the world, exploring alternative philosophies of combat and movement. Representatives from the Society of Shaolin Temple in Flushing, Queens, will demonstrate Chinese kung-fu forms and discuss the Buddhist beliefs that inform their philosophy. Donald Tampubolan, coach of the Baruch College Shootfighting Team, will demonstrate the Indonesian martial art Penjak Silat, as well as Tai Chi, a Chinese martial art and form of meditation. Also expected are student martial arts clubs including the Baruch Shotokan Karate club and the Hand-to-Hand-Combat Club.

The event dance card is equally full, with Afro-Brazilian cultural ambassador Cabello playing the infectious rhythms of Brazilian samba. Born in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Cabello has been a lifelong student of Afro-Brazilian culture. He began performing and teaching in the United States twelve years ago, and has since toured the world with dance companies Batoto Yetu and Urban Tap. After finishing his samba set, he will join other students of Grandmestre Joao Grande to demonstrate Capoeira Angola. The National Endowment for the Arts named Grandmestre Grande a National Heritage Fellow in Folk and Traditional Arts in 2001.

There will also be performances by Afro-Cuban rumberos Quinto Major, and the Yerba Buena collective playing bomba-plena from Puerto Rico. Admission to the event is free. The Engelman Recital Hall is located on the B3 level of the Newman Vertical Campus.

Olayinka Fadahunsi,
Office of Communications and Marketing.

Bookmark and Share