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Embodying Diaspora: a monthly dance workshop series

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Arts Incubator

301 East Garfield Boulevard

Chicago, IL 60637

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Embodying Diaspora is a monthly dance workshop series that centers on Afro-diasporic movement traditions led by Arts + Public Life / Center for the Study of Race, Politics & Culture Artist-in-Residence ARIF SMITH and his guests. Smith’s residency prioritizes embodiment and co-presence as strategies for exploring linkages between various coordinates in the Black Atlantic.

Embodying Diaspora

Second Tuesdays • 6:30-8:00 PM
February 13 - July 10, 2018
Arts Incubator (301 E Garfield Blvd)
Free. See age restrictions per class below.
All skill levels are welcome. Please wear comfortable clothes.

February 13: Kizomba (ages 16+)

Kizomba is a social dance form from Angola that emerged in the late 1970s. Kizomba derives much of its movement vocabulary and structure from traditional Angolan semba, although the former is significantly slower. This workshop will explore the roots of kizomba, underscoring fundamental footwork and timing.

March 13: Rumba (ages 16+)

First documented in the 19th century, rumba is a secular genre traditionally performed by Cubans of African descent in the streets and solares (courtyards) of Havana and Matanzas. There are three traditional forms of rumba: yambú, guaguancó, and columbia. This workshop will focus on guaguancó, a dance style that embodies the dynamic courtship between the hen and rooster.

April 10: Orisha (all ages)

This workshop will investigate dance vocabulary that honors various orisha (deity) in La Regla de Ocha or the Lucumí (Yoruba) tradition found in Cuba. The workshop will also feature batá drumming and songs for various orisha.

May 8: Rueda de Casino (ages 16+)

Developed in the 1950s, rueda de casino (wheel of salsa) is a dance genre shaped by several African-rooted traditions found in Cuba, including son and rumba. Rueda de casino is typified by couples dancing in a circle while guided by a leader who indicates when to execute synchronized movements.

June 12: Bomba (all ages)

Although first documented in 1797, research suggests that bomba developed in Puerto Rico in the 16th century during the Spanish colonial period among the island's African descendants. Bomba is Puerto Rico's oldest surviving music and dance form, and is characterized by the dialogue between the solo dancer and musician playing the primo or subidor (lead drum).

July 10: Eskista (all ages)

Eskista is the most widely known traditional dance genre from Ethiopia. Exemplified by isolated movement in the shoulders, neck, and chest, eskista has regional variations that are meant to depict the movements of cobras, chickens, and the stages of the harvest.

About Arif Smith:

Arif Smith is a multidisciplinary artist and educator. His performance- and video-based work centers on diasporic citizenship and African-rooted performance practices, exploring notions of blackness, co-presence, and marronage. Smith received his BA from Oklahoma State University. He also participated in the performance studies graduate program at Northwestern University. Additionally, Smith has curated exhibitions and symposia at Williams College and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA). He is currently a member of Bomba con Buya and serves as program manager at Changing Worlds.

Questions? Contact Nikki Patin at

Arts and Public Life and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture hosts individual artists through the Artists-in-Residence program and interdisciplinary partnerships through the Crossing Boundaries Prize. These residency programs are open to Chicago-based artists and groups whose work explores issues of race, politics and culture. Both programs advance the opportunities available to artists who are underrepresented in the Chicago and national arts scenes. Learn more at

Arts + Public Life events are wheelchair accessible. Contact us for assistance at 773.702.9724 or by email at

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Arts Incubator

301 East Garfield Boulevard

Chicago, IL 60637

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