“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.

Rhythm in Acting and Performance Conference, March 2021

It was a pleasure and an honor to share my research about Victoria Santa Cruz’s transnational rhythmic education philosophy and practice at the international conference “Rhythm in Acting and Performance.” This gathering of international researchers and practitioners took place March 26–28, 2021, organized by Dr Eilon Morris, from Leeds Conservatoire and OBRA Theatre, author of Rhythm in Acting and Performance: Embodied Approaches and Understandings (Bloomsbury/Methuen Drama 2017). The events were hosted remotely from Athens under the auspices of The Makings of the Actor, The Michael Cacoyiannis Foundation, The Labanarium, Leeds Conservatoire and Hellinoekdotiki.

Video Podcast Interview #SinDistancias

I am honored that Araceli Poma chose to interview me about my research toward a biography of Victoria Santa Cruz in the most recent episode of Araceli’s wonderful program about Peruvian music and culture #SinDistancias. The program (in Spanish with English subtitles) also features the inspiring work of Julie Guillerot (International Festival of the Cajón and AFROPERU) and Matt Geraghty (Just Play’s Grammy-nominated The Warrior Women of Afro-Peruvian Music).

Photo Essay for Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biographies

Victoria Santa Cruz is one of eleven prominent Caribbean and Afro-Latin American individuals profiled in my online photo essay for the Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography (eds. Franklin W. Knight and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Oxford African American Studies Center). These eleven individuals were selected from over 2,000 biographies as a “brief tour of the project, highlighting the scope and depth of the Dictionary.”


New Publication about Victoria Santa Cruz in Theatre Survey Journal

I am happy to announce my recently published article in the journal Theatre Survey (Volume 61, Issue 2, May 2020, pp. 203–230):

“Staging Public Blackness in Mid-Twentieth-Century Peru: The Repertoires of Pancho Fierro and Cumanana” by Heidi Carolyn Feldman

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S004055742000006X

Extract:  In 1951, Victoria (1922–2014) and Nicomedes Santa Cruz (1925–92) attended a performance at Lima’s Teatro Municipal (Municipal Theatre) by the Katherine Dunham Dance Company. Dunham (1909–2006), an African American choreographer and anthropologist, pioneered a “research-to-performance” method to study African-derived dances in the Caribbean and stage them in stylized choreographies. Elite Lima patrons walked out of the theatre during the danced African fertility rite in Dunham’s “Rites de Passage,” but the performance left a lasting impression on the Santa Cruzes. Nicomedes Santa Cruz later described the event as the first positive staged demonstration of blackness in Peru—and Victoria Santa Cruz stated that, when they saw Katherine Dunham’s production, they knew they had to do something similar. The Santa Cruzes went on to lead a revival of Afro-Peruvian arts in the 1960s and 1970s.

This article appears for the first time in English with permission of the Fondo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. An earlier version was originally published in Spanish as “Escenificando la negritud en la Lima de mediados del siglo XX: Las compañías Pancho Fierro y Cumanana,” trans. Adriana Soldi, in Lima siglo XX: Cultura, socialización, y cambio, ed. Carlos Aguirre and Aldo Panfichi (Lima: Fondo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2013), 199–234. Some material was previously published in my book Black Rhythms of Peru: Reviving African Musical Heritage in the Black Pacific (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2006).

Victoria Santa Cruz’s 2004 Book Now Available Online

I am pleased to announce the online edition of Victoria Santa Cruz’s book  Rhythm, the Eternal Organizer/Ritmo, el eterno organizador (trans. Susan G. Polansky, Ediciones Copé, 2004). This bilingual (Spanish and English) book, in which Santa Cruz explains her philosophy of rhythm, has long been out-of-print and was never widely available outside Peru.

I am grateful to Octavio Santa Cruz, Aldo Durán and Ediciones Copé, and Susan G. Polansky (Teaching Professor and Head of Department of Modern Languages), Keith Webster (Dean of University Libraries), and Marcie Hayhurst (Legal Assistant, Office of the General General Counsel) of  Carnegie Mellon University for working with me to make possible the broader dissemination of Victoria Santa Cruz’s book via Carnegie Mellon University Library’s online repository of digital scholarship. Thank you also to Javier León for communications translation support.


Video: Reunion of Founding Members of Victoria Santa Cruz’s 1960s Company (Black Theater and Dances of Peru)

During Afro-Peruvian Culture Month, 2018, Luís Rodríguez Pastor and Seminario Afroperuana de Artes y Letras organized the second reunion and public conversation of  founding members of Victoria Santa Cruz’s Peruvian company Teatro y Danzas Negras del Perú. These four videorecordings (in Spanish) document the public event, which took place at the Peruvian Ministry of Culture in Lima on June 30, 2018.