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Learning Senegalese Sabar

Dancers and Embodiment in New York and Dakar

Eleni Bizas

168 pages, 3 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-256-0 $70.00/£50.00 Hb Published (February 2014)

eISBN 978-1-78238-257-7 eBook

Hb   Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Buy the ebook from these vendors

Bizas delivers an astute multi-sited ethnography on teaching and learning… The author's descriptions of movement often jump from the page to land fully formed in the reader's imagination so that the reader, too, is moved.”  ·  Choice

“ A short study of dance instruction and learning in three settings (two in New York as well as in Dakar, Senegal) raises important issues of globalization, the commoditization of dance and culture in general, and the complex embodied process of learning or 'enskilment.”  ·  Anthropology Review Database

The material discussed in this study is extremely rich and well analyzed. It is a fascinating piece of research.·  Stephanie Bunn, University of St. Andrews

“…a wonderfully wrought study… crisp, well-contoured sentences that guide the reader effortlessly into the deep recesses of transnational West African dance… The ethnography… is enviably rich.  Readers get to know the dancers as they struggle with various issues: the relationship of sound to movement, the question of dance authenticity in Uptown, Downtown and Senegalese sites, the social, political and economic contours of Pan-Africanism and Afrocentrism.”  ·  Paul Stoller, West Chester University

Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in New York and Dakar, this book explores the Senegalese dance-rhythms Sabar from the research position of a dance student. It features a comparative analysis of the pedagogical techniques used in dance classes in New York and Dakar, which in turn shed light on different aesthetics and understandings of dance, as well as different ways of learning, in each context. Pointing to a loose network of teachers and students who travel between New York and Dakar around the practice of West African dance forms, the author discusses how this movement is maintained, what role the imagination plays in mobilizing participants and how the ‘cultural flow’ of the dances is ‘punctuated’ by national borders and socio-economic relationships. She explores the different meanings articulated around Sabar’s transatlantic movement and examines how the dance floor provides the grounds for contested understandings, socio-economic relationships and broader discourses to be re-choreographed in each setting.

Eleni Bizas publishes on dance, learning, migration and West Africa and is currently a Research Fellow at the Programme for the Study of Global Migration, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

Series: Volume 6, Dance and Performance Studies
Subject: Performance Studies General Anthropology

LC: GV1588.6.B59 2014

BL: YC.2014.a.3767

BISAC: PER003100 PERFORMING ARTS/Dance/History & Criticism; PER003000 PERFORMING ARTS/Dance/General; SOC002010 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Anthropology/Cultural

BIC: ASD Dance; JHMC Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography


List of Maps
Map of Senegal in Africa


Chapter 1. Trans-Atlantic Travels of West African Dance
Chapter 2. The New York Dance Floor
Chapter 3. Navigating Trans-Atlantic Flows
Chapter 4.  Re-Choreographing Sabar
Chapter 5. The Kinaesthetic of Sabar
Chapter 6. Hearing Movements, Seeing Rhythms



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