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Accepted Paper:

Dancing Cubanidad between precarity and prestige  
Ruxandra Ana (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores dance as a cultural resource that ensures mobility and provides Cubans with the opportunity to access difficult labor markets outside the island. Dance careers unfold between precarity and prestige in the context of growing dance consumerism and multicultural dance markets.

Paper long abstract:

The paper addresses the ways in which Cuban artistic and embodied labor is extracted and exchanged through the mechanisms of transnational mobilities. Cuba – as imaginative construction – holds a central position on the global dance marketplace, which values or devalues dancers for their race and ethnicity. For many young Cubans, dance careers on the international salsa scene, associated with notions of prestige and success, become viable alternatives to the otherwise difficult to access European labor market. Disenchanted with the promises of the Cuban Revolution and having no affective ties to its ideology, they envision themselves as future migrants in a world of better opportunities outside Cuba. Consumer goods and lifestyles associated with ‘the outside world’ are central to their experiences, while access to education and universal healthcare, considered achievements of the Revolution, bear little appeal. They live, work, and hope in a transnational space for which the role of imagination becomes central. An ‘elsewhere’ shapes their desires, aspirations, and potential career expectations, placing them in a state of permanent preparedness for migration. Other Cubans’ mobile practices create the premise for mobility and the expectations around what triggers mobility (artistic careers, family abroad, romantic involvements, friendships). Dance becomes a cultural resource that can ensure mobility, as bodily skills and cultural capital are employed in order to secure sources of income. Dance careers hold the promise of transformation into independent, self-sustaining performers, yet they unfold on a dance market that exposes dancers to periods of irregular and precarious situations.

Panel P085b
Prepackaged hopes and ready-made paths of transformation II
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -