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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Agradezco profundamente a Julie Guillerot y su blog Repercuté por haber difundido una traducción en español de mi ensayo biográfico de Victoria Santa Cruz, publicado originalmente en 2016 por Oxford University Press en el Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography (DCALAB).
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.
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).
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.”
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
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).