How an understanding of salsa dancing enhances our appreciation of salsa's global reach and meanings
A Global Dance in Local Contexts
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edited by Sydney Hutchinson
Since its emergence in the 1960s, salsa has transformed from a symbol of Nuyorican pride into an emblem of pan-Latinism and finally a form of global popular culture. While Latinos all over the world have developed and even exported their own “dance accents,” local dance scenes have arisen in increasingly far-flung locations, each with its own flavor and unique features.
Salsa World examines the ways in which bodies relate to culture in specific places. The contributors, a notable group of scholars and practitioners, analyze dance practices in the U.S., Japan, Spain, France, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Writing from the disciplines of ethnomusicology, anthropology, sociology, and performance studies, the contributors explore salsa’s kinetopias—places defined by movement, or vice versa—as they have arisen through the dance’s interaction with local histories, identities, and musical forms.
Taken together, the essays in this book examine contemporary salsa dancing in all its complexity, taking special note of how it is localized and how issues of geography, race and ethnicity, and identity interact with the global salsa industry.
Contributors include Bárbara Balbuena Gutiérrez, Katherine Borland, Joanna Bosse, Rossy Díaz, Saúl Escalona, Kengo Iwanaga, Isabel Llano, Jonathan S. Marion, Priscilla Renta, Alejandro Ulloa Sanmiguel, and the editor.
"Salsa World is one of the best books I know on the culture-making character of body movements and interactions, and it will be of great value to any reader interested in the social dimensions of popular dance forms. Hutchinson and her contributors illuminate the complex sociogeographical context of salsa, making a valuable contribution to studies on the relationship between dance, music, community, and social identity."
"Salsa World is a most welcome addition to the literature on salsa. Until now, no book in English has dealt specifically with salsa as a dance practice. The strengths of Hutchinson’s volume are in the breadth of the areas covered and the geographic diversity of the case studies. Only through this type of multisited study can we begin to fully understand the implications of globalization, and the focus on dance rather than music fills a lacuna in salsa scholarship."
"Hutchinson and international scholars and practitioners examine the salsa dance experience in parts of the world ranging from Colombia, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic to the United States, Japan, and Spain.... Besides locale, authors also vary in subject background (ethnomusicology, anthropology, performance studies, etc.). Hutchinson has translated many of these articles, and the variety of perspectives provides an intriguing approach to the subject.... VERDICT Useful for students interested in cross-cultural study and issues of dance, place, and identity."
"As Salsa World amply document, the lifts, flips, and dips…were typical of a shift in salsa practice at the turn of the twenty-first century, from a social dance performed in informal settings primarily by Latin/o Americans, to a studio dance phenomena practiced by professionals across a network of formal gatherings and competitions on every continent.… Salsa World takes a more global approach, chronicling the global phenomena of studio salsa in nine essays documenting the studio salsa scene in nine cities in the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia."
"[A] long overdue and a much-welcomed addition to music/dance scholarship.... This collection is a study of a global phenomenon as constructed by people grounded in particular locales....The breadth of place is refreshing, but it is the knowledge and expertise that each of the various authors contributes that makes this book a versatile edition for scholars interested in the processes and particularities of media-influenced, commodity-driven cosmopolitan formations, as well as salsa and popular (partner) dance in general.... Hutchinson gathered essays from scholars beyond the fields of ethnomusicology and anthropology to create a solid and excellent overview of the diversity and influence of this dance."
"Sydney Hutchinson’s comprehensive anthology on salsa dancing in global and local contexts.... [brings] together essays on salsa dancing and salsa dance scenes throughout the Americas and beyond.... thoughtfully compiled.... Hutchinson is to be commended for bringing such diverse voices together.... [T]his highly recommended anthology illuminates how salsa dancing styles and distinctly local salsa scenes have evolved in multiple locations, but it also offers fascinating insights into the complex interplay between dance and culturally constructed ideas about race, class, ethnic, gender, tradition and modernity, migration, globalization, and national and local identity formation."
"Salsa World is a much-needed contribution to the fields of dance and salsa. It continues the critical ethnographic study of salsa.... Looking ahead, scholars working in the field of salsa music and dance will turn to Hutchinson’s volume not only for models to address how the dancing body constitutes the locus of intense kinetopias, but also perhaps discover how and why salsa scholarship might also move toward the direction of critically examining the binary of sound and movement as it has been upheld in salsa scholarship thus far."
Sydney Hutchinson is an Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology in the Department of Art and Music Histories at Syracuse University.
In the series
Studies in Latin American and Caribbean Music, edited by Peter Manuel.
Studies in Latin American and Caribbean Music, edited by Peter Manuel, aims to present interdisciplinary studies in the traditional and contemporary musics of Latin America and the Caribbean.