Swapping the pleasures: case study of a social practice artwork encouraging alternative performances of gender within the social dancing of Kizomba

Collins, David (2020) Swapping the pleasures: case study of a social practice artwork encouraging alternative performances of gender within the social dancing of Kizomba. The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review. ISSN 2473-5809

Abstract

The teaching of Afro-Latin partner dance forms including Salsa, Bachata, Cha Cha Cha and Kizomba, routinely encourages participants to perform their gender within a rigid paradigm of heteronormative power-relations. Although many dancers are challenging the conventions of male-leading and female-following, through initiatives such as queer-tango and same-sex ballroom dance, there is virtually no evidence of social-dance role-reversal within mixed-sex couples ie. women leading men. This article is a case study of a role-swap Kizomba course run in the city of Leeds in the UK, which aimed to challenge the twin taboos of men-following-women and women-leading-men in Afro-Latin social partner dance. It aimed to discover whether, if provided with the opportunity, social dancers were open to dance-role reversal within a heterosexualised context. The course was conceived as a socially-practice artwork. This study draws data from: questionnaires completed by dancers who attended the classes; ethnographic observation of the process and its outcomes; interviews with members of the larger Kizomba dancing community. The results of the role-swap course confounded the expectations from the literature review, with both female and male participants demonstrating an openness to learning non-traditional roles. This case study advocates the potential for creative interventions within existing communities of practice as a means to challenge conventions of social relations within those contexts.

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item