No field is exempt from the sociopolitical influence of history in the modern world of neocolonialism—even and especially art. Current scholars and practitioners in the departments of Dance, Performance, and Africana Studies are working to dismantle the colonialist structures that still dictate our perception of what constitutes art and its function in our lives. The term dance is colloquially used to signify either a fun, if meaningless, pastime or the highly technical performance forms such as ballet that have been historically dominated and upheld by white colonialists. In view of this complex history of usage, some artists and scholars have chosen to eschew it and instead utilize the term ritual to describe the process of communal healing through choreographed movement. This lexical shift already changes the viewer’s experience of it. Instead of designating it as a dance with the aim of entertainment and showing off individual mastery over technique, the emphasis is placed on spiritual group healing and love.
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In this context, the term love does not express the romantic connection between a couple or a willingness to forgive and forget. Instead, it signifies the unification of the viewer and artist through appreciation for individual differences during ritual. The viewer also participates in the process of healing but acknowledges the limits of their personal viewpoint without appropriating the artists’ unique experiences. This is a radically new way of reframing the viewer-artist relationship, especially considering the historical violence of the cross-cultural colonialist gaze and the Othering of anyone who did not fit into the white supremacy paradigm. Love becomes a political tool that celebrates heterogeneity and the human capacity for movement and desire without erasing or denying the past.