Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Zumba Class -- Dance and the Legacy of the Enslaved
Abstaining from work this past weekend, I took myself to a Zumba class. I'd only been to a couple of these classes, but was pleased to see a different teacher. Pat, a mature, well toned woman with bleached blonde hair and a somewhat gritty style worked better for me than the ingenue who seemed on the silly side. Plus, this teacher gave us some info on the dances, which shifted when the music did.
Dancing to salsa music is relatively new to me. My dance history is tied up with live African drumming and styles from African, to Afican-Brazilian, and African-Caribbean. But salsa music brings the same invocation to move in joy, to be in and alongside the rhythm, to let hips roll free, everything in communion with the beat. Dancing makes me smile, and when I can go fully into the movement, claim it, I am in endorphin city. When the cha cha music came on, Push Push (I've got to get it), I got head on in it, switching back and forth between the cha cha beat and the half steps I learned to throw in there, doubling the steps. "I was killing it," I later told my girlfriend, still riding the high from the class.
Dancing is therapeutic, and yet the therapy field offers little recognition of this.
Pat, who shared that she is half Latino, with a Puerto Rican father, taught a dance I'd never heard of -- Cumbia -- from Columbia. She related that it is believed to have come from those enslaved (a term that avoids the objectification of slaves). You generally move only one leg, the one that is not shackled, or so the story goes, and the arm movement is one of cutting chaff in the fields. Imagine. I had to touch the floor with both hands, when the dance ended, as I do before the drummers at other classes, signifying my gratitude and reverence for their contribution.
What a legacy my enslaved ancestors have bestowed. Dance dance dance -- however, whenever you can!
Photo by thandiwe