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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:From cultural aesthetic to performance technique: continuities and contrasts in improvisational milieux of 'vimbuza' and jazz
Author:Msosa, WatsonISNI
Year:1999
Periodical:Journal of Humanities (ISSN 1016-0728)
Issue:13
Pages:47-58
Language:English
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic terms:Malawi
Central Africa
Subjects:African religions
spirit possession
dance
Art, Architecture, Music, Drama
Traditional culture
music
performing arts
Abstract:Dance, like language, is a special sort of patterned behaviour with its own common terms of reference. Etical description of dance brings to light variation in dance forms as culturally defined expressions. However, to understand dance as cultural performance entails understanding what a dance expresses as culturally patterned behaviour and what it articulates as embodied knowledge. An emic approach to dance highlights the agency of performers and their conceptual schemes. In this context, the present author argues in favour of a culturally situated perspective on improvisation. Improvisation should be understood as a practice, tied to place and context. To explore the question of how improvisation is contextualized, the author refers to the performance contexts of 'vimbuza', a popular possession dance belonging to a large family of spirit possession cults in Malawi, and jazz in North America. Bibliogr., notes.
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