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Title: Timbeando en Nueva York: Cuban Dance Culture in Havana and New York City
Authors: Town, Sarah
Advisors: Agawu, Kofi
Morrison, Simon
Contributors: Music Department
Keywords: casino
Cuban revolution
music analysis
Subjects: Music
Caribbean studies
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Despite radical changes in diplomatic relations, Havana and New York have long been poles of cultural exchange. My dissertation seeks to define Cuban popular music and dance, describing and analyzing timba and casino in particular, as they travel and transform over time. I argue that despite its scant historical record, social dance became an important aspect of the Cuban revolutionary project. Enacting social cohesion and affective resilience in the midst of stress and shortage, social dance performed productive labor for the revolution. Operating within a very different context, New Yorkers today adapt casino to their own needs, producing an itinerant practice through which they celebrate community and diversity, while laying claim to the city. Meanwhile, Cuban timba is a musical hybrid that manipulates rhythm, timbre, and form to produce tension, release, and communally experienced sensual pleasure. New York-based artists exploit timba’s hybridity and flexibility, expanding the use of improvisation and dialogue, yet maintaining a dance prerogative, producing a unique sonic-kinetic space. The Afro-diasporic aesthetics and practices that imbue Cuban dance culture and the contestation and transformation of gendered aesthetics and dance roles over time are narrative threads developed over the length of the work. These become important lenses through which to consider social change, musical evolution, and Cuban artists’ interactions with broader markets. Pursuing a deeply interdisciplinary approach, I rely on an array of archives and media including periodicals, album art, documentary film, and live performance footage; interactive oral historical and analytical interviews with musicians and dancers; and my own embodied and transcribed observations and experiences in the field. Beyond its methodological contributions, my project augments and critiques the existing literature on Cuban revolutionary history and New York’s Latinx cultures, as well as on the history and analysis of casino and timba in particular. Analyzing the complex and evolving relationship between a popular dance culture and its diverse environments, it proposes a focus on form, practice, and culture that destabilizes national identities in favor of diasporic cosmopolitanisms.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Music

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