Cover for DANIEL: Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahian Candomble

Dancing Wisdom

Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahian Candomblé
Awards and Recognition:

Winner of the de la Torre Bueno Prize (2006).

Landmark interdisciplinary study of religious systems through their dance performances

Concentrating on the Caribbean Basin and the coastal area of northeast South America, Yvonne Daniel considers three African-derived religious systems that rely heavily on dance behavior–-Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahamian Candomblé.

Combining her background in dance and anthropology to parallel the participant/scholar dichotomy inherent to dancing's "embodied knowledge," Daniel examines these misunderstood and oppressed performative dances in terms of physiology, psychology, philosophy, mathematics, ethics, and aesthetics.

"Dancing Wisdom offers the rare opportunity to see into the world of mystical spiritual belief as articulated and manifested in ritual by dance. Whether it is a Cuban Yoruba dance ritual, slave Ring Shout or contemporary Pentecostal Holy Ghost possession dancing shout, we are able to understand the relationship with spirit through dancing with the Divine. Yvonne Daniel's work synthesizes the cognitive empirical objectivity of an anthropologist with the passionate storytelling of a poetic artist in articulating how dance becomes prayer in ritual for Africans of the Diaspora." --Leon T. Burrows, Protestant Chaplain, Smith College


"[Daniel] advances dance anthropology through ambitious meticulous scholarship, acute comparative analyses, riveting ethnographic description and a sensual sense of the dancing body that makes one feel the movement of the muscles and spirit."--Dance Research Journal


Yvonne Daniel is professor of dance and Afro-American studies at Smith College in Massachusetts. She is the author of Rumba: Dance and Social Change in Contemporary Cuba, and has performed with the Cuban National Folkloric Ensemble and as Guest Artist for several Latin American dance companies.

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