Campus Culture

Abre la Boca: A Dance Exchange for BLA Learning Community

The BMCC Learning Academy (BLA) organizes learning communities that consist of cohorts of students enrolled in two paired courses and a specialized success seminar. The idea is to create a smaller support network within the larger college community, let professors coordinate and tailor their courses to a new context, and give students the chance to make connections across academic disciplines. This semester we have been teaching a learning community of SPE100: Fundamentals of Public Speaking  and SPN105: First-semester Spanish. We called our project, “Abre la boca,” to highlight the embodied nature of learning a new language and public speaking.

In our emphasis on self-expression, embodiment, community building, and local activism, we have organized a Dance Day coming up on Thursday, November 7. The event will feature two workshops with NYC-based Afro Puerto Rican dance companies. Megan Curet, an alumna of BMCC, is creative director for the Curet Performance Project. Her technique is based on signs of cultural identity that influence how we move much in the way a regional dialect or accent might change the way we speak. She will teach a morning session that explores how histories of slavery are carried in the body, and how our movement can engage, confront, or resist those pasts. In the afternoon, Milteri Tucker will bring Bombazo Dance Company to show and teach us Puerto Rican Bomba to live drumming. This folkloric dance originated in communities of enslaved people in Puerto Rico and has had a resurgence among the grassroots efforts to rebuild the island since Hurricane María. Bomba is danced in a circle along with drum and song, and participants are invited to make the drum “talk” with their piquete movements. Together, Curet and Tucker show two perspectives on bringing tradition and folklore into the present day.

Yes, there will be dancing. And experimenting with movement. And probably more than a few moments of awkward interaction. But perhaps the most valuable part of the day will be those moments when we put aside the limiting beliefs of self-consciousness, fear, inhibition, and oppression to access expressive capabilities we maybe never knew we had before. On occasions that require public speaking or speaking in a new tongue (or both), there is a certain level of discomfort as we feel exposed in unfamiliar territory. Our goal has been to give our students an opportunity for  an authentic cultural experience, as well as push themselves to explore their own thoughts and beliefs on a deeper level. We hope that the bonds formed through the learning community will support individuals in the group as they acquire new skills.

The Dance Day event is open to the college community!

Thursday, November 7, 2019 in Room S719

11:30-1:30 Megan Curet Workshop

1:30-2:30 Break for lunch

2:30-4:30 Bombazo Workshop

We would like to thank the BMCC Learning Academy, its director Sara Crosby, and our cohort success coach Geraldo Cruz for this opportunity and the support to organize this event.


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