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Kate Spanos presentation at ICTM 2019

July 16, 2019 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Kate Spanos will present her paper, “Carnivalesque Improvisation in Frevo, a Dance of Resistance from Recife, Brazil” at the annual International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) conference in Bangkok, Thailand on Tuesday, July 16. Her paper is part of the conference theme, “Music and Dance as Expressive Communication.” More information about the conference can be found here: http://www.ictm2019thailand.com.

Frevo is an energetic music and dance that symbolizes Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco: loud brass instruments provide the fast-paced music and dancers in bright costumes hold small colorful umbrellas as they perform acrobatic feats, dropping to their knees before springing up into high airborne splits. The word frevo is a colloquial form of the Portuguese verb ferver (“to boil”) that alludes its frenetic nature and the hot, sweaty Carnival during which it is danced. Frevo comes from Recife, the capital of Pernambuco, and its neighboring city, Olinda, and it is an emblem that represents a regional variation on Brazilian national identity. In this presentation, I will present detailed ethnographic research based on six months of fieldwork in Recife to examine how frevo is a “dance of resistance” and implements strategies that derive from its origins in the Brazilian martial art of capoeira. I consider frevo to be a dance of resistance because it narrates, through both sound and movement, complex notions of identity that contribute to individual and collective expression, social empowerment, and the valuation of popular culture. In considering how frevo’s playful and carnivalesque nature combines with its improvisational techniques, I propose the term “carnivalesque improvisation” to describe how dancers use improvisational strategies to communicate cultural knowledge and to work through and around the unpredictability and frequent violence of Carnival and Recife’s society at large. I will present a nuanced ethnochoreologial examination of the teaching methodologies and performance strategies of selected frevo groups, performers, and choreographers to show how practitioners use improvisational strategies of resistance to challenge sociocultural boundaries and socioeconomically determined attitudes.


July 16, 2019
11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Event Category:


Chulalongkorn University
Bangkok, Thailand + Google Map
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