Exploring the ways that cultural celebrations challenge official accounts of the past while reinventing culture and history for Filipino American college students
The Day the Dancers Stayed
Performing in the Filipino/American Diaspora
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Theodore S. Gonzalves
Pilipino Cultural Nights at American campuses have been a rite of passage for youth culture and a source of local community pride since the 1980s. Through performancesand parodies of themthese celebrations of national identity through music, dance, and theatrical narratives reemphasize what it means to be Filipino American. In The Day the Dancers Stayed, scholar and performer Theodore Gonzalves uses interviews and participant observer techniques to consider the relationship between the invention of performance repertoire and the development of diasporic identification.
Gonzalves traces a genealogy of performance repertoire from the 1930s to the present. Culture nights serve several functions: as exercises in nostalgia, celebrations of rigid community entertainment, and occasionally forums for political intervention. Taking up more recent parodies of Pilipino Cultural Nights, Gonzalves discusses how the rebellious spirit that enlivened the original seditious performances has been stifled.
"With acumen, verve, and a politics of style that effect an important counter-appropriation of performance studies in today's American academy, The Day the Dancers Stayed offers a differently historicized analysis of the processes by which cultural—kinetic, aural, visual—knowledges get produced, repeated, and transformed. Gonzalves shows us or, more precisely and more crucially, reminds us how and why culture dies. And how it always lives on."
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