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Alegropolitics Of Connection: Reaching Out On The Dance Floor

30. Jan­u­ar 2024 

A Con­ver­sa­tion Between Ananya Jaha­nara Kabir and Magna Gopal

„Ale­gropol­i­tics Of Con­nec­tion: Reach­ing Out On The Dance Floor”
A Con­ver­sa­tion Between Ananya Jaha­nara Kabir (Pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture at King’s Col­lege Lon­don) and Magna Gopal
Ananya Jaha­nara Kabir (inter­na­tion­al­ly rec­og­nized empow­er­ment coach)

Event in the frame­works of vir­tu­al inReach sem­i­nars at the The Cen­tre for Research in the Arts, Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties (CRASSH)/University of Cambridge

Colo­nial­ism, enslave­ment, dis­pos­ses­sion, and dis­place­ment: modernity’s foun­da­tion­al trau­mas also catal­ysed unex­pect­ed new cul­tur­al forms, includ­ing glob­al­ly pop­u­lar social dances that com­bine the Euro­pean-derived part­ner-hold with African- derived rhyth­mic ele­ments. Unequal and vio­lent encoun­ters gen­er­at­ed dances based on the shared exhil­a­ra­tion of part­ner­ship, which now cir­cu­late transna­tion­al­ly through semi-for­mal leisure indus­tries based on class­es, par­ties, and fes­ti­vals. Pro­fes­sor Ananya Jaha­nara Kabir’s research has mobilised this para­dox to artic­u­late a rela­tion­ship between trau­ma, resis­tance, sur­vival, and the mar­ket that she calls ‘ale­gropol­i­tics’, or the pol­i­tics of col­lec­tive joy through connection—the title of the book she is cur­rent­ly com­plet­ing, that draws on over ten years of mul­ti­lin­gual, mul­ti-sit­ed, archival and field research on transna­tion­al spread of African-her­itage part­ner dances such as sal­sa, tan­go, lindy hop, zouk, bacha­ta, and kizomba.

Research on dance involves embod­ied and par­tic­i­pa­to­ry meth­ods. Sim­ply put, it means danc­ing social­ly (a lot) and think­ing about how the dance floor trans­forms us and what it can teach us. One of Ananya’s long­stand­ing col­lab­o­ra­tors from the dance scenes she stud­ies and par­tic­i­pates in is the renowned sal­sa per­son­al­i­ty Magna Gopal. Their rela­tion­ship exem­pli­fies the deep con­nec­tions between social dancers, teach­ers, and instruc­tors that these scenes enable. Over the years Ananya and Magna have used their con­ver­sa­tions to under­stand the inner log­ic of how part­ner danc­ing involves socia­bil­i­ty, impro­vi­sa­tion, musi­cal­i­ty, and skill, to trans­form cul­tur­al appro­pri­a­tion to inter­sub­jec­tive con­nec­tion. In this sem­i­nar they will con­duct a con­ver­sa­tion in the spir­it of impro­vised part­ner danc­ing. They will talk about the ways in which reach­ing out to part­ners on the dance floor is also about reach­ing out across the bar­ri­ers of class, eth­nic­i­ty, reli­gion, race, and pro­fes­sion to present live pos­si­bil­i­ties for con­nect­ing with each oth­er through an ale­gropo­lit­i­cal lega­cy the dance car­ries with it as its own embod­ied history.

Watch a *PREVIEW* of Magna Gopal Lead­ing Selene Tovar

inReach – /ɪn riːtʃ/ Sem­i­nar Series. A sem­i­nar series con­vened by Kel­ly Fagan Robin­son (Depart­ment of Social Anthropology)
Reg­is­tra­tion via Eventbrite