Thursday, February 22, 2018

Our Evolving Dance Culture

By Jason Miyashita, Waipio

As dancers, we are musically way ahead of the academics. Long before the academics knew enough to either condemn or condone Blues or Jazz, musicians had developed a culture around parties, speakeasies, juke joints and da kine. A culture that had its own codes of behavior and slang. Dancers, like musicians, have always rebelled against the intellectualized “norm” - those folks who sifted through their culture and categorized, labeled and interpreted their culture to the rest of the world.

"Social dancers believe that in moving to music, its inmost substance
cannot be reasoned, only experienced.”

How do you define music or a dance when it has no pedigree like Latin music in Hawaii? This question can be answered in a few ways and the first thing that is important to understand is that definitions change over time as musicians or dancers – and the general public – grow used to “what is” – and get used to the process of evolution towards “what will be.” And for a good example, we have Latin music. We can all agree that Latin music exists but we must remember that there was a time when it didn’t exist as it does now in Hawaii.

"Morning Dew" by Melveen Leed

Obviously we can observe that Latin music on Oahu has evolved over time. After the war there was only Puerto Rican music and that was just accepted as music for the Puerto Ricans. And there were other flashes in the pan but it not until HBDA was formed that they categorized Rumba, Cha Cha Cha, Samba and Tango for the Hawaii Islands  Take a good look around, we have come a long ways, Baby. And West Oahu is picking up on this action.

“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those
who will not admit they are wrong.”