Cover for CASTALDI: Choreographies of African Identities: Negritude, Dance, and the National Ballet of Senegal. Click for larger image
Ebook Information

Choreographies of African Identities

Négritude, Dance, and the National Ballet of Senegal

A rich portrait of the National Ballet of Senegal's work and of the urban dance world of Dakar

Choreographies of African Identities traces interconnected interpretative frameworks around and about the National Ballet of Senegal. Using the metaphor of a dancing circle Castaldi's arguments cover the full spectrum of performance, from production to circulation and reception. Castaldi first situates the reader in a North American theater, focusing on the relationship between dancers and audiences as that between black performers and white spectators. She then examines the work of the National Ballet in relation to Léopold Sédar Senghor's Négritude ideology and cultural politics. Finally, the author addresses the circulation of dances in the streets, discotheques, and courtyards of Dakar, drawing attention to women dancers' occupation of the urban landscape.


"Castaldi's strongest moments lie in her deconstruction of the curious syntheses of 'national ballets,' which perform merged imaginaries for largely expatriate audiences. . . . Recommended."--Choice

"Castaldi has adopted a dance company, the National Ballet of Senegal, for her worthwhile study. . . . Her analysis of the cross-cultural and artistic issues that face African dance companies is a complex web or mirror that envelops anthropology, colonialism, women's issues, and creative virtuosity."--Multicultural Review

"Castaldi produces an innovative, vivid narrative of dance and the choreographies of identities in Senegal, which is certainly thought-provoking in its combination of 'thick' ethnographic description and theoretical reflections. . . . I . . . recommend her study to anyone interested in West African performing arts, identity politics, and discourses of ethnographic writing."--African Affairs

"Castaldi was the first to publish an in-depth study of dance in Dakar, and hers is a very valuable contribution to a much neglected yet growing field. . . . I would highly recommend it to any reader concerned with the significance of performance in social life and the circulation of the performing arts within and out of Africa."--African Arts

"Well written and thoroughly theorized, this book presents a thought provoking post-colonial critique of the way in which the African body is presented in dance and represented in writing. . . . With astute observations about the vicissitudes of the global economy in which the dancers operate, the author lends a sympathetic eye to what is undoubtedly the most popular art in Africa. The book offers a radical perspective on a theme—the National Ballet of Senegal—that was long due serious attention."--Africa: the Journal of the International African Institute


Francesca Castaldi is an independent dance scholar and ethnographer.

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