“When one of the artists began to cry, it fully hit me just how much dance means as a cultural expression,” said Jacklyn Dodson, Social Work ’25. “Dance is not just moving bodies or a form of entertainment. Dance is the story of our ancestors. It is a way to bring people of all experiences and identities together.”
Lindsay Puente is an adjunct professor at the School for Classical & Contemporary Dance. She has a Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature, with a focus on the Afro-Latin World and the systems of slavery and oppression. She recently brought the Diasporic Dance Mini-Conference to campus as a celebration of Zumbimba, a festival for the Day of Black Consciousness in Brazil.
History of Zumbimba
The Day of Black Consciousness honors the independence of enslaved Africans and recognizes that modern society was historically founded and operated through racialized slavery. Zumbimba celebrates the influence and contributions of African and Diasporic cultures, a collection of unique experiences and identities shaped by cultural migration.
The festival is named in honor of Zumbi dos Palmares and Mestre Bimba, two heroes central to the fight for liberty and equality in Brazil. The Filhos de Bimba, Escola de Capoeira (Children of Bimba School of Capoeira), led by Mestre Nenel, the son of Mestre Bimba, coined the term Zumbimba in 1992, and it is the school’s recognition of the Day of Black Consciousness in Brazil.
Palmares was the leader of Quilombo dos Palmares, a settlement that served as a refuge from slavery in Northeastern Brazil during the 1600s. Palmares died defending the freedom of his community and is recognized as a national symbol for the fight for liberty.
Mestre Bimba dedicated his life to championing capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian dance fight outlawed from 1890 to 1937. He founded the Filhos de Bimba, Escola de Capoeira, and it is now an internationally recognized art-form representative of Brazil.
Bringing the Diasporic Arts to the TCU Campus
Puente is a student of Mestre Nenel and a professor at the Filhos de Bimba, Escola de Capoeira. She runs a cultural school specializing in Afro-Brazilian arts and is home to Filhos de Bimba-Texas, a branch of the Filhos de Bimba, Escola de Capoeira.
Puente joined the Zumbimba tradition in 2014 with her version celebrating the diasporic arts.
How did you get the idea to create and host the Diasporic Dance Mini-Conference?
Puente: The idea of Zumbimba and a celebration of Diasporic arts, combined with the courses that I teach at TCU (Dance in World Cultures and Brazilian Expressions), came together to create an opportunity for interactive learning and community exchange here on campus.
Diasporic Dance Mini-Conference
Puente invited local artists to teach movement in her Dance in World Culture sections throughout the semester. The guest artists returned to campus for the dance mini-conference and participated in a panel and showcase to highlight the beauty of the diasporic arts.
Her students closed the conference and performed the cultural movements they studied in honor of the Zumbimba festival.
“Dance is how communities preserve, resist, and share their culture – and I can participate as a learner and listener,” said Camilla Price, Biology ’23. “It was humbling to think about how many people passed down their traditions to make it possible for us to witness and participate in preserving them.”
Puente hopes to continue hosting the annual conference to facilitate meaningful interactions and conversations between the TCU campus and the larger community.
“It was a beautiful event celebrating indigenous and diasporic art forms,” said Ricky Lawson, a spectator. “There is more that connects us than divides us, the closer we all get to our roots.”
The Diasporic Dance Mini-Conference was made possible through the support and sponsorship of:
- The School for Classical & Contemporary Dance
- Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies
- Department of Spanish & Hispanic Studies
- AddRan College of Liberal Arts
- Digital Humanities: Literary and Rhetorical Studies
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