For Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies Michelle Martin-Baron, hosting a dance workshop by Ballet Folklorico de Ithaca is a necessary step to bridge activist theory and positive action. The workshop, which will take place from 6:30 – 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15 in the Winn-Seeley Gymnasium, is an open experience for all HWS community members wishing to learn about and participate in an indigenous dance form with roots in Mexican nationalism.
Attendees can expect to hear from the Ballet Folklorico de Ithaca performers about their chosen art form and its significance as an aspect of cultural identity. Following the talk, the ballet troupe will perform a dance piece for the audience. To conclude, participants will be invited to learn and take part in a portion of a dance.
“For community members, this is a chance to become exposed to a form that they may not have ever seen before, to gain some appreciation for its history and for the experience of trying something new,” Martin-Baron explains. “Because it comes out of Mexico, it is grounded in a specific geography and it also plays with gender roles in interesting ways.”
The dance workshop is an experience in conjunction with Martin-Baron’s WMST-308 course, “Chicana and Latina Art.” The class has spent the fall semester examining Chicana and Latina feminism and intersections with the arts in order to better understand gender dynamics in those two cultures. Students of the class bring together a collective background in women’s studies, Latin American studies and creative research interests.
“The biggest thing for me is to create an even broader visibility to the significant Latina population on campus,” Martin-Baron comments. “I intend the class to be a space for women of color on campus, if at all possible, though this event is open to all.”
Noting the rise of xenophobic rhetoric in the media, Martin-Baron reflects on the need for such spaces and the productive conversations that come with them. Because ballet folklorico was created in part to establish both spaces and conversations for people of color, “it might do that here, too.”
Sponsored by the Women’s Studies Department, the Office of Intercultural Affairs, HWS Dance Department and the Department of Spanish and Hispanic Studies, the event is free and open to the HWS community. Light refreshments will be provided. While participating in the dance is not mandatory, it is highly encouraged.