Victoria Santa Cruz Centennial CEDET Presentation: Making Blackness Visible Outside Peru

It was my great pleasure to contribute a virtual presentation to another event in Lima, Peru honoring Victoria Santa Cruz and reflecting upon her legacy in the year of her Centennial. On June 28, 2022, CEDET presented a roundtable “Conversatorio” (with Mariela Noles Cotito, Sofía Carrillo Zegarra, and María del Pilar Cáceres Cartagena) dedicated to the topic “Me Gritaron Negra: Structural Racism and Its Impact on Afrodescendants, an Intersectional Analysis.” My pre-recorded remarks addressed Victoria Santa Cruz’s promotion of Black arts and culture in her career outside Peru.

International Colloquium in Cuba Commemorates Victoria Santa Cruz Centennial

Victoria Santa Cruz (1922–2014) was one of four influential international figures born a century ago whose lives and impact were commemorated at the second international Colloquium on Afroamerican Studies at Casa de las Américas in Havana, Cuba, organized by Zuleica Romay Guerra. The theme of the Colloquium was “Breaking the Silences of the Past: Rewritings and Rereadings of Afroamerican History.” Honored alongside Victoria Santa Cruz were Centenarians Alex Haley (USA, 1921-1992), Florinda Soriano Muñoz “Mamá Tingó” (Dominican Republic, 1921-1974), and Armando Fortune (Panama, 1921-1979).

On June 16, 2022, it was my honor to present (virtually) a preview of my research about an understudied period in Victoria Santa Cruz’s global career: her formative years in Paris, at the fascinating University of the Theatre of Nations, from 1962 to 1966.

At the panelists’ forum and question-and-answer session later that day, I made the following remarks (scroll down for English translation):

“Victoria Santa Cruz testificó: ‘Nací mujer, nací negra, y más adelante constaté que el hecho de ser latinoamericana, suponía también un obstáculo’. Durante su vida, Victoria Santa Cruz superó obstáculos interseccionales y hizo visibles las vidas negras (como lo decimos en inglés). Pero el impacto de las mujeres afrolatinoamericanas que llevaron vidas globales es muchas veces invisible en el espacio académico internacional y en la conciencia pública, especialmente en los Estados Unidos. Para comprender ampliamente sus legados transnacionales, hay que llenar los huecos en los archivos y romper los silencios. Así que espero que mi ponencia hoy sobre sus menos conocidos años en Francia, como parte de mi proyecto más amplio, haya ayudado a visibilizar una experiencia que fue formativa, pero poco conocida, en la biografía de Victoria Santa Cruz.”

English Translation: “Victoria Santa Cruz testified: ‘I was born a woman, I was born Black, and later I realized that the fact of being Latin American was also an obstacle.’ During her lifetime, Victoria Santa Cruz overcame intersectional obstacles and made Black lives visible. But the impact of Afro-Latin American women leading global lives is often invisible in the international academic space and public consciousness, especially in the United States. To fully understand these women’s transnational legacies, we must fill in the gaps in the archives and break the silences. So I hope that my talk today about Victoria Santa Cruz’s lesser-known years in France, as part of my larger project, has helped to make visible an experience that was formative, but little known, in Victoria Santa Cruz’s biography.”

My full presentation (in Spanish) is available here. To watch with English subtitles, turn on Closed Captions (CC) and then adjust the settings wheel to turn on English translation subtitles.

New Article Published – “Victoria Santa Cruz in North America: The Carnegie Mellon Years”

I am thrilled to announce my first publication about Victoria Santa Cruz’s years at Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama. This article (in Spanish) offers a preview of some of the material that will appear in my book. Thank you to Virginia Yep for inviting me to contribute to a special dossier about Victoria Santa Cruz in Cuadernos de Música Peruana issue 17, alongside illuminating articles by Alina Santa Cruz and Octavio Santa Cruz. Thank you also to Pamela Narbona for English-to-Spanish translation. Don’t miss the historic photographs and theatre program images, courtesy of Octavio Santa Cruz and Carnegie Mellon University archives. And heartfelt thanks to the numerous students, accompanists, colleagues, collaborators, company members, family, and friends of Victoria Santa Cruz who have shared their memories with me and made my research possible. Download my article here:

Victoria Santa Cruz Featured in Journal Article about Rhythm Conference

I am grateful to Juliet Chambers-Coe for highlighting my presentation about Victoria Santa Cruz’s approach to rhythmic education in Juliet’s recently published journal article about the 2021 conference “Rhythm in Acting and Performance.” This memorable conference was led by Eilon Morris at Leeds Conservatoire UK, and organized in collaboration with The Makings of the Actor and the Labanarium.

Victoria Santa Cruz Centennial Year Has Begun!

On October 27, 2021, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture launched a year-long commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Peruvian cultural icon Victoria Santa Cruz’s birth, honoring Victoria Santa Cruz’s “legacy for humanity.”

I was honored to participate virtually in the Centennial kickoff event, held in Lima and broadcast live on Cultura 24 / Facebook TV. The program included remarks by Victoria Santa Cruz’s former colleagues, company members, friends, and family; presentations by representatives from Peru’s Ministry of Culture and UNESCO; tributes by international artists inspired by Victoria Santa Cruz; music and dance performances; and more.

For non-Spanish speakers interested in learning about the Centennial, I have created two video excerpts from the event with English subtitles (thanks to Swarthmore College intern Andres Villalba for captioning assistance).

Video Excerpt: Announced plans for the Centennial year, in a video created by the Ministry of Culture’s Victoria Santa Cruz Centennial committee.

Video Excerpt: My remarks on the occasion of the launch of the Victoria Santa Cruz’s Centennial year.

Here is the entire event (in Spanish without subtitles). Fast forward to 16:31 to begin:


“Rhythm and Revolution” at American Society for Theatre Research Conference

On October 29, 2021, I took part in the very productive and stimulating “Theatre and Revolution” working session at the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) conference in San Diego, California. Convened by Emily Sahakian (University of Georgia), Logan Connors and Lillian Manzoor (University of Miami), our group came together to explore the relationship between theatre and revolution, in and across historical, cultural, and performance contexts.

I shared for feedback and discussion a paper excerpted from my manuscript-in-progress, titled “Rhythm and Revolution: Victoria Santa Cruz and the National Folklore Ensemble of Peru, 1973–1982.” My paper explores how Victoria Santa Cruz shaped and staged for Peruvian and world audiences a Gramsci-influenced revolutionary concept of Peruvian folklore as an agent of both individual and social transformation. I explain how the Peruvian Revolution enabled her rise to power as a government folklorist and founding director of Peru’s National Folklore Ensemble, which positioned her to guide individual evolutionary processes in rehearsals and staged performances. As Victoria frequently declared: “There is no revolution without evolution!” Ultimately, her work overlapped with and furthered—but also transcended and repurposed—the utopian ideals of the Peruvian Revolution.

Special thanks to my working session sub-group members Angela Marino (University of California, Berkeley) and Brianna Beemon (University of Minnesota) for their valuable feedback, and for sharing their own research about the Venezuelan Revolution and the Young Lords.

Article Wins Honorable Mention for Vera Mowry Roberts Award

I am grateful to the esteemed American Theatre & Drama Society selection committee for choosing my article “Staging Public Blackness in Mid-Twentieth Century Peru: The Repertoires of Pancho Fierro and Cumanana” (Theatre Survey 2020) for Honorable Mention as a finalist for the Vera Mowry Roberts Award. This award goes annually to the  best essay, published in English in a refereed scholarly journal or edited collection, that focuses on theatre and/or performance in the Americas.

Victoria Santa Cruz in Paris

On July 1, 2020, I was thrilled to share a preview from the section of my book manuscript about Victoria Santa Cruz’s little-known Paris years: “París Me Llama”: Victoria Santa Cruz en la Universidad de Teatro de las Naciones, 1962–1966.” (“Paris Calls Me”: Victoria Santa Cruz in the University of the Theatre of Nations, 1962–1966).

CEDET’s 9th International Seminar: Republic, Racism and  Pandemic: 200 Years of Afrodescendant Resistance was an exhilarating gathering of scholars, artists, and activists from around the world by way of Zoom from Lima, Peru. It was a particular honor to join Octavio Santa Cruz Urquieta, Alina Consuelo Santa Cruz Bustamante, Andernísia Ferreira do Nascimento de Messias, and moderator Juan Manuel Olaya on a panel about the historic resistance, presence, and contributions of the Santa Cruz family.