“To Carry the Dance of the People Beyond”

Millery Polyné

in From Douglass to Duvalier

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780813034720
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039534 | DOI:
“To Carry the Dance of the People Beyond”

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This chapter examines the cultural manifestations of Pan Americanism through the development of Haitian folkloric dance by the Haitian-born dance director Jean-Leon Destine and the U.S. African American dance educator Lavinia Williams. As early as the mid-1930s, the Haitian government began to support the advancement and consumption of Haitian cultural arts to increase tourism to the country. The work of Destine and Williams sought to modernize Haitian dance or, rather, to discipline it, classify it, and theatricalize it so Haiti's original art form could be exhibited on the world stage and educate audiences about Haitian history and culture. The establishment of cultural institutions and the training of Haitian dancers by a U.S. African American choreographer affirmed not only the spirit of Pan Americanism's cultural exchange programs, but also the creation of an alternative world by black dancers in which African-based art forms were celebrated and in consistent dialogue with Western culture.

Keywords: cultural manifestations; Pan Americanism; Haitian folkloric dance; Jean-Léon Destiné; Lavinia Williams; tourism; industrialization; cultural exchange programs; African-based art forms; Western culture

Chapter.  9447 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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