Navigating Landscapes of Longing and Belonging: Dialogues of Capoeira and Welsh Folk Dance in Intercultural Performance




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


This thesis is an autoethnographic critical enquiry exploring the innovative methods and processes employed throughout Perguntas & Atebion (2011-2013), an intercultural practice research exchange project between artists from Wales and Brazil, that was co-led by myself, a Welsh dancer and choreographer and Brazilian musician and capoeirista, Ruan de Vargas. Perguntas & Atebion took place between Wales and Brazil with dancers, musicians and capoeiristas drawing upon their practices of capoeira and dawnsio gwerin (Welsh Folk Dance) to create intercultural performance. Facilitated by an interrogation of the creative and critical processes that supported the collaborators on Perguntas & Atebion to bring their embodied knowledge of these cultural art forms into dialogue, this thesis offers a new methodology for creating intercultural performance. Thus, this thesis aims to contribute to renewed interest in intercultural performance making and offers a significant contribution to the paucity of academic writings about capoeira and performance and dawnsio gwerin.

The thesis distinctively works from the perspective of the artist providing insight from the lived experiences of the process. It proposes an approach that combines collaborative improvised practices, and reflective writing as a process of sense-making. In so doing, it creates an innovative approach to the processes of writing about dance practice. It also revisits written journal reflections from the period of practice research to consider the embodied insights from it within the context of wider discourse from a variety of fields including: dance studies (Midgelow 2011, Roche 2015); intercultural performance studies (Knowles 2010, Loukes 2016, Fischer-Lichte, 2014); dance and cultural studies (Rosa 2015); geography (Anderson 2010); Brazilian and Welsh history (Assunção 2005, Lile 1999).

The chapters address: autoethnography as a research method; approaches to intercultural performance creation; the practices of capoeira and dawnsio gwerin and their historical parallels; notions of embodiment and identity, place, space and temporality, and belonging that arise from both practices of capoeira and dawnsio gwerin within the context of intercultural performance making. Key themes of saudade and hiraeth offer lenses through which presence and absence, and bringing the past into the present, are examined to frame our intercultural collaboration in the contexts of Brazilian and Welsh culture.





Research Institute