Post-colonialism and Dance – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Dance Theory Glossary

I. What is Post-colonialism?

Post-colonialism is a theoretical framework that examines the cultural, political, and social impacts of colonialism and imperialism on societies that were once colonized. It seeks to understand and critique the power dynamics, inequalities, and legacies left behind by colonial rule. Post-colonialism challenges dominant narratives and perspectives that have been shaped by colonial ideologies and seeks to give voice to marginalized groups and their experiences.

II. How has Post-colonialism influenced dance?

Post-colonialism has had a significant impact on the field of dance, as it has prompted dancers, choreographers, and scholars to critically examine the ways in which colonialism has shaped dance practices, aesthetics, and representations. By interrogating the colonial legacy in dance, artists have been able to challenge Eurocentric norms, decolonize movement vocabularies, and explore new ways of expressing cultural identities and histories through dance.

III. What are some key concepts in Post-colonial dance theory?

Some key concepts in Post-colonial dance theory include cultural hybridity, diaspora, resistance, and decolonization. Cultural hybridity refers to the blending of diverse cultural influences and traditions in dance practices, reflecting the complex and dynamic nature of post-colonial identities. Diaspora explores the experiences of displacement and migration that have shaped the movement of people and cultures across borders. Resistance in dance involves challenging colonial power structures and reclaiming agency through embodied forms of protest and activism. Decolonization in dance seeks to dismantle colonial ideologies and practices, centering indigenous knowledge, perspectives, and aesthetics.

IV. How do dancers and choreographers engage with Post-colonial ideas in their work?

Dancers and choreographers engage with Post-colonial ideas in their work by drawing on their own cultural backgrounds, histories, and experiences to create dances that challenge dominant narratives and representations. They may incorporate traditional movement vocabularies, rituals, and storytelling techniques into their choreography, reinterpreting and reimagining them in a contemporary context. By centering marginalized voices and perspectives, dancers and choreographers can disrupt colonial hierarchies and create spaces for dialogue, reflection, and transformation.

V. How does Post-colonialism challenge traditional dance narratives?

Post-colonialism challenges traditional dance narratives by questioning the ways in which dance has been historically used to reinforce colonial power dynamics, stereotypes, and hierarchies. By deconstructing and reimagining these narratives, dancers and choreographers can challenge Eurocentric norms, challenge cultural appropriation, and celebrate the diversity and richness of global dance traditions. Post-colonialism also challenges audiences to critically engage with dance as a form of cultural expression and to consider the complex histories and identities that shape dance practices and performances.

VI. What are some examples of Post-colonial dance performances?

Some examples of Post-colonial dance performances include Akram Khan’s “Desh,” which explores themes of identity, migration, and cultural hybridity through a blend of contemporary and traditional dance forms. Another example is Pina Bausch’s “Rite of Spring,” which reinterprets the iconic ballet through a post-colonial lens, challenging Eurocentric representations of nature and indigenous cultures. Additionally, the work of choreographers like Crystal Pite, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and Rulan Tangen all engage with Post-colonial ideas in their choreography, pushing boundaries and expanding the possibilities of dance as a form of cultural expression and resistance.