Dance, Movement and Theory

Yari Taina Rodriguez Benitez

"Bomba Dance: Embodying Resistance"

Estoy buscando un árbol que me de sombra…

(Spanish Abstract)

"El presente de cada área contiene a su pasado y esos
productos son la cristalización de la expresividad de cada época".
Rubén Olivera

My first culture shock when I moved to New York was having a diversity of people approach me to say that I didn't look, act or talk like a Puerto Rican. Some meaning to say that it was better, others meaning to say that I wasn't Boricua enough, and the rest with a legitimate curiosity about my culture. It was the first time my identity had been questioned based on binary distinctions with superficial contradictions. Within my colonial reality I had learned to identify myself with an additive quality rather than a fusion of such and such cultures. Thus being latinoamericana, hispanoamericana, afroantillana, caribeña and puertorriqueña; negra, negrita, trigueña, café, canela, india, blanquita and jincha all at once though depending on the context. Therefore, any definition that can be applied to identify puertoricanness will necessarily overflow with excessive and slippery social identities. Intertwined with all of these social identities lives bomba, and it was in New York that I was to find it again in my path.
My childhood memories of bomba as a community event are full of images from places and people whom I love, but for whatever reason are no longer a part of my life. My extended family from Barrio Obrero and Las Monjas, the teachers of el Taller Afroantillano and friends from Villa Palmera who during family gatherings would improvise with whatever instruments were available a feast that could go on for several days depending on the occasion. The women would cook or dance while men were either playing music, dominoes or dancing with one of the women, and the children were sometimes dancing, but most of the time running around playing street games. Music could go on for hours, when it was time for a break or to eat, radios were turned on with mostly salsa and you could still spot someone dancing. Music would naturally flow from salsa to rumba to bomba to plena to décima to aguinaldo and so on. Men would play drums and cuatro, while some women would play the guitar, and children would grab the maracas, palitos, and panderetas, everybody would sing. As my life drifted apart from this setting I continued to experience the same type of community gatherings, but with a shift in flavor and intensity. This is to say that as I drew apart from a very specific region, bomba -as a fully participatory event- became less accessible to me.
Now I understand that this shift was not only regional, but social. Nueva Trova took the place that bomba had occupied before as an instrument to bond with peers against oppression. Bomba being my elders' tool within a poor marginalized black community; Nueva Trova serving as a symbol of anti-imperialism for a group of educated idealistic youth. I would then go to bomba and plena festivals only to find that bomba was rarely performed. When it was performed, it was done by folkloric groups, which would stylize and choreograph what was played out in the community as a ritual of spiritual and political bonding between the participants. These groups tend to be traditionalists in that they claim authenticity within the genre in an attempt to pass it on. This only becomes a source of conflict on how "authentic" can spontaneous gatherings be and how much change will be accepted by those who have claimed authority over what constitutes bomba. Bomba becomes under this context an expression from the past to be preserved. It is not my intention to argue on the origins or the authenticity of bomba. It is more of an attempt to understand the meaningful ways in which bomba inflicts the lives of those who are marginalized in Puerto Rico by way of racism and class, and specifically how I have experienced it in New York.
It is through migration that a lot of Puerto Ricans experience racism directly without it being disguised through a class discourse. It becomes especially problematic when one identifies oneself as a non-racist anything but black, only to discover that whatever favorable situation one lived in the island -real or imagined- meant nothing in a place where you become a black other. This is the reality of many Puerto Ricans who were used to identify themselves as Indians -if dark skinned- before thinking of themselves as blacks, and more so of those light skinned who would identify themselves as Spanish, attributing the category of black to the people from neighboring islands. If blackness is masqueraded as that of the foreign, bomba has to be brought into a political discourse of that from the past that no longer exists based on a rhetoric that all foreign slaves disappeared once slavery was abolished.
Bomba was developed into a cultural expression when slaves were allowed to gather on certain occasions, becoming their instrument to establish a sense of community by telling the other stories, those that otherwise would've died forgotten. Stories - that could be very personal between members of the community- and legends were then passed on from generation to generation and traveled from island to island. Used also as a conspiracy tool for freedom from slavery, Bomba is always about challenge and communication. Conversations are held between the danzante and the tambor until one of them gives up in the attempt to control the rhythm. Messages were sent through corporal dialogue right in front of the landowners who didn't understand this exchange.
Today Bomba isn't popularized by radio, TV and the traditional mass media, but we can find it in fiestas and celebrations from certain regions like Santurce, Loiza, Mayagüez, Ponce and Guayama. It continues to be subversive in challenging the notions of nationhood; in accepting our African roots; and in offering an alternate understanding of our spirituality, sensuality and of our relation with nature. I have experienced three different formats of performing bomba to this date: a) the staged professional folklorist type of presentation, which loses active participation from the community; b) a middle ground between the folklorists and the spontaneous community members where musician members of the community gather to form a professional group that performs in social spaces like cultural centers, pubs, plazas and festivals; we can also insert into this category bombazos that are organized so as to imitate that of a spontaneous situation c) and the spontaneous gathering of a close-knitted group of community members.

staged performance group performance
a) energy flow b) energy flow

c) complete community participation
energy flowing within participants
eliminating any audience

Bomba is not a religious ceremony even though it does connect its participants into a profound spiritual experience when performed in a spontaneous context . As the energy current flows within the boundaries of the circle/community it accumulates and feeds the intensity of the ritual. Thus, one can control the level of intensity by transmitting less or more energy towards the center of the circle rather than diminishing or exaggerating the performance in any way. Synchrony between dancers and drums is not achieved, but rather a polyrhythmic sensitivity will flirtatiously mark the rhythm pushing the beat rather than on time with it. The moving body becomes the musical notation for the drummer subidor to follow - movement becomes sound as the body becomes an instrument. The bomba circle is a space for gesture to become dance; where asymmetry and unbalance through abrupt -while subtle- segmentation movements are expressed for long hours; and where conventions of time and rhythm are assaulted and transformed. It is through the dancer's improvisation segment that the creative force is brought to an intensive momentum of rhythmic virtuosity as he/she is challenging the buleador primo to keep up with a pattern of moving beats and slaps of the drum through his/her body. A time loop is opened where the notion of time becomes space for energy accumulations to manifest. Whatever the outcome, the whole community will gain. The idea of the collective artist introduced by Maya Deren is a concept that can be applied to this moment of artistic flow through a conversational process. To dance bomba is much more than an accumulation of steps, it requires an interiorization of a philosophy of life and a sensibility of that which is not translatable -the additive character of our culture through movement.

Remeneate, remeneate casco 'e juey

"Memor, la palabra latina, según comenta David F. Krell en su erudito libro sobre reminiscencia y escritura "Of Memory, Reminiscence and Writing", pertenece a un núcleo semántico asociado siempre con el pensamiento como actividad, como práctica. Imprimir, para los antiguos filósofos y poetas, era una manera de no olvidar, una actividad. La memoria está a menudo asociada a la escritura o a la iconografía, a todo lo que hace posible la conservación, para ser recuperado en otro momento. La tábula rasa era eso, precisamente, una tableta de cera, en la que se podía imprimir, y claro, borrar."
Arcadio Díaz Quiñones

The fact that bomba is not often discussed among scholars is revealing to an understanding of the development of this music-dance form as an expression of self-identification from a Puerto Rican community against a national agenda of exclusion. If one considers the categories proposed by Diana Taylor of archive -as that of the "supposedly enduring materials"- and repertoire -as that of "embodied practice/knowledge"- it will further help us in understanding how in the continuity of history through dance one can discover bodies of resistance in the dancing bodies of bomba.
Bomba, as a music-dance genre that privileges rhythm over melody , originates with the African people that were violently displaced from their communities and brought to work in the sugar plantations as slaves. In colonial Puerto Rico under Spain, African slaves were transmitting rhythmic memories from their land that managed to captivate the energy of the blacks as they went from island to island in the Caribbean. Thus, a community emerged within a slave culture that took on a regional character determined by the ethnic composition of the enslaved, the work routine and type of labor . Music and dance that traveled from Africa into Puerto Rico, as well as the rest of the Caribbean, came mostly from ethnic groups of West Africa:
"Although some slaves were taken from East Africa (Mozambique, from Angola, and from the region of the Congo, the majority of those shipped to the NewWorld came from the coastal area of West Africa, along the Gulf of Guinea. The heart of the slave territory lay in Nigeria, Dahomey, western Congo, and the Gold Coast. This region is still inhabited, as it was in the time of the slave trade, by the Ashanti, the Congo, the Dahomeans, the Yoruba, and the Bini. Most of the African survivals found in the Americas can be traced to these main cultural-linguistic groups." (Gilbert Chase, 1955)

Katrina Hazzard-Gordon, in her essay "Dancing Under the Lash: Sociocultural Disruption, Continuity, and Synthesis", argues that "[t]hough the ceremonial context and the specific uses of movement of each enslaved ethnic group's dances were different, the basic vocabulary of West African movement was strikingly similar across ethnic delineation…Such common characteristics included segmentation and delineation of various body parts, including hips, torso, head, arms, hands, and legs, the use of multiple meter as polyrhythmic sensitivity, angularity, multiple centers of movement, asymmetry as balance, percussive performance, mimetic performance, improvisation, derision dances and call and response". This motor-muscle rhythmic memory enabled Africans from different ethnic groups to merge within a point of commonality through their bodies into a collective self-identification against a violent de-culturation process in their new land.
Bomba gets its name from the African word bomba meaning drum . Its basic structure is one of call and response between a lead singer and a chorus, with songs that to this date continue to have words of African and Creole origin despite that very few people understand them. Besides singing, a maraca, cúa and two drums would compose the bomba rhythms in its previous form. A "buleador" or "guiador", which establishes the basic rhythmic pattern or "toque de bomba", and a "buleador primo", "subidor" or "repicador" who along with dancers will improvise another set of beats imposed over a set backround "toque". One of the determining factors of being a good drummer is to perform the different "toques" of bomba:

" Guateque
" Balele
" Seis corrido
" Changüí
" Danuá
" Babú
" Curiquinque
" Calindá
" Mariangola
" Cuembé o güembé
" Timbeque

Music and dance are to be approached as a whole when considering bomba, revealed through this old saying: "cuando la bomba ñama el que no menea oreja menea una nalga". Angel G. Quintero Rivera, in his essay "El tambor camuflado", describes a traditional bomba toque as follows:
"Tradicionalmente el baile se desarrollaba en la siguiente forma. Un grupo de personas cantan alrededor de los tambores; de momento un bailador (o bailadora) comienza a improvisar su baile en diálogo con el tambor repicador. Es decir, en lugar de organizar sus movimientos rítmicos a base del toque, del patrón rítmico básico, que es la forma generalizada en el baile latino popular moderno, el toque queda como trasfondo rítmico implícito y sus movimientos se estructuran para dialogar con la improvisación creativa. Para esta última se siguen unos patrones tradicionales; pero su éxito como bailador no reside sólo en conocer estos patrones, sino en su capacidad de superar al tambor repicador en la versatilidad improvisadora. Después de un tiempo el bailador se retira y se lanza un segundo bailador al ruedo, también en diálogo con el tambor improvisador. Cuando termina se lanza un tercero, y así sucesivamente. La naturaleza de reto a la creatividad improvisadora se reafirma en la siguiente práctica: si el bailarín lograra superar en virtuosismo improvisador creativo al tamborero repicador, este segundo, en homenaje, acepta la victoria del bailarín, lo cual se expresa comenzando a tañir el toque, es decir, a repetir el ritmo del tambor guiador, lo que se conoce en esta tradición como "bomba larga".

It is through improvisation that bomba has been able to survive centuries of repression as it allows the moving bodies to re-generate themselves within their specific cultural references of the immediate present. If we understand dance as an artistic response to society rather than a self-explanatory entity that multiplies corporal reactions to particular sounds we can see how, while transmitting communal histories through generations in a cumulative process of ever-changing, bomba dancers are telling significant narratives through their polyrhythmic movements. In the challenging of the rhythmic pattern established in "el toque" they are also challenging values of a dominant culture who praise the melodic body of a non-gravitational ballerina. If we consider Schechner's definition of performance as "twice-behaved behavior", how bomba is transmitted and it's function as a non-linguistic way of thinking identities could be understood as a 1-5a-5b restoration of these performative identities with a spiral relation between past-present-future. Not only are the bomba dancers producing cultural memory, but they are also re-writing history as it is known through their bodies.
Bomba dance -as a secular ritual- enabled social intercourse and became a means of political manifestation by camouflaging insurrectionary activity. There are various incidents documented where bomba was used to actively resist the slave system in the XIX century:

"La convocatoria a un baile de bomba fue utilizada en 1825 para organizar una sublevación de esclavos en los sectores Capitanejo y Salitral en la costa ponceña-juanadina." Díaz Soler

"Así lo ilustra la conspiración de Bayamón en 1821 y la de Ponce, en 1826. El baile de bomba constituyó uno de los métodos más utilizados para exteriorizar los sentimientos de coraje y rebeldía reprimidos y, además, la manera de planear conspiraciones. Por esa razón las autoridades insistieron en que no podía haber bailes sin permiso del gobierno." Guillermo A. Baralt

Paradoxically, for the masters it also represented a form of pacifying any desire to rebel as some slave-owners considered "…el apego natural por la música de estas gentes…que sólo se necesita tocar un poco de música para apaciguarlos…" In othering the bodies of the slaves by identifying their nature within a lack of selfhood, they were marginalizing furthermore the cultural production that these communities were going through and neglecting to identify its force. Celeste Fraser Delgado and José Esteban Muñoz argue how "[l]inking rhythmic movement to nature negates dance as a conscious strategic practice". In considering public space and its politics N'Gûgî Wa Thiong'o argues that "[t]he open space among the people is the most dangerous area because the most vital…Thus under colonialism there followed attempted suppression or strong limitation of all open-air performances within the territorial space." The abrupt and spontaneous movements of the bomba dancers in their conversations with the drummer and the community in circle , which served as a way of making satirical commentaries on that structured life of the sugarcane plantations had a power that the Spaniards needed to control.
"[P]uede tomarse la carta solicitando permiso para celebrar un baile de bomba el domingo, 11 de octubre de 1840. Dice Morales Carrión:
A pesar del doloroso desgarramiento que la trata y la venta de esclavos ocasionaban en los lazos familiares y tribales, en la zona de la esclavitud negra de América se mantenía a veces cierta cohesión social, aún conservando los esclavos sus reyezuelos africanos, ejemplo de la persistencia en las nuevas tierras de los nexos ancestrales.

Ciriaco Sabat, rey de los congos en Mayagüez solicitó licencia para celebrar un baile de bomba con motivo de las fiestas a San Miguel y la Virgen del Rosario. La carta fué firmada por Ventura Reyes porque Sabat no sabía escribir. La solicitud de Sabat fue denegada por Santiago Méndez Vigo, gobernante del país. El General y Conde de Santa Cruz, Méndez Vigo, consideró peligrosas las reunions de esclavos porque se habían recibido informes sobre haitianos que difundían propaganda subversiva por la costa oeste de Puerto Rico."

What could not be controlled through military force-that of the private space-would be appropriated and interpreted in order to codify and control the knowledge that it contained. In her essay "On Colonial Forgetting", Jill Lane speaks of the sword as a "kind of pen, inscribing the narrative Of Spanish empire onto the body of the land and its people; here the pen is already a kind of sword, violently reinscribing the newly dicovered land and peoples of America into the book of empire". The archive will constitute the ultimate space of power where the "other" and its innovative forces are erased from the history of humanity. Against conflict and repression, bomba performers challenge official discourse from a liminal space -of not being Puerto Rican nor African- and continue to preserve a collective memory where meaning and function of dance as a form of relating to the content of their social interactions is maintained.
In order to understand the official disappearance of bomba in Puerto Rico and therefore, how it is that bomba dancers re-configure the written history through choreography, one needs to contextualize it with the social historical accounts that lead to a process of psychological "whitening" of the race.
Afraid of possible rebellions, Spain re-enforces its military presence in San Juan during the XIX century, not just to police its local population, but also to fight against the rebels of neighboring islands. Being that the criollo elite from Puerto Rico enjoyed a privileged social status due to their military careers-not to mention their participatory financial situation with the sugar and coffee industry-this was a class that did not seek independence from Spain, but rather sought a reform process where they would gain greater political participation. Puerto Rico, or should I say San Juan, became a space of counter-revolution, where loyalty to the metropolis was expressed even in acts of self-identification as "americanos" against the metropolis.
If San Juan became a space of counter-revolution, the interior of the island had already become a space of counter-plantation . The counter-plantation in Puerto Rico was of a different nature then in the rest of the Caribbean, due to the military-commercial function of the Spanish colonies during the first centuries of possession. Against the military city was formed a rural society who lived to survive and was not involved in any national agenda. Those who escaped were not just slaves, but also those seeking a space away from class and racism like the many Jews and moors who were escaping from ethnic repression.
A counter-culture was created outside the state's jurisdiction, who did not view the rural world of the cimarrón as a threat but rather as the "habitat of indolent primitives". This world of fugitives would lay the roots of what are considered to be Puerto Rican popular forms that avoided direct confrontation with the colonial state. Bomba instead, laid its foundation on the center of officialdom as a form of direct confrontation with it. This is not to say that these two worlds were antagonist to eachother, but rather fluctuations among the two were common as can be appreciated through the regional music expressions. The musicologist James McCoy, in his study of aguinaldo and bomba establishes a rhythmic parallel between these two genres which is pertinent if one considers that aguinaldo and seis are the music expressions associated with el jíbaro
"While the African influence is not so strongly felt in the aguinaldo as in the bomba…it is nevertheless significant. The driving unrelenting strong rhythmic impulse found in the extant aguinaldo does not originate in Spain nor Arabia, but instead in the music brought by the slaves from Africa…the force of powerful pulsation found in the Puerto Rican aguinaldo is not evident in the Spanish villancico nor even in many of the Puerto Rican villancicos."

Quintero Rivera writes of the lexical interrelation between bomba and seis by referencing the chronicles from the XVIII century of André Pierre Ledru
"La mezcla de blancos, mulatos y negros libres formaba un grupo bastante original…ejecutaron sucesivamente bailes africanos y criollos al son de la guitarra y del tamboril llamado vulgarmente bomba."

Quintero Rivera also calls our attention to the fact that the word bomba has been kept in one of the seis versions -seis bombeao- while at the same time the different versions of bomba dances are often referred to as seises; which leads him to think that the connection between these two genres are greater than what has been acknowledged by traditional musicology. Quintero Rivera goes further on in finding that
"En un corto trabajo del etnomusicólogo Emanuel Dufrasne aparece un elemento que considero sumamente sugestivo, aunque requiriría mucha más investigación adicional. Dufrasne transcribe la música de un cordófono de orígen africano obtenida en sus investigaciones sobre la bomba. La transcripción aparece toda en re, con una sola exepción, y es significativo que sea precisamente el tono de re el más utilizado en la música de cuatro de aguinaldos y seises. En la transcripción, la división de tiempos se hace en tresillos, figura que predomina también en las transcripciones de bomba del decano del estudio del folklore musical en el país, Francisco López Cruz. Es nuevamente significativo que el tresillo abunde también en el seis campesino y el aguinaldo (el tresillo es fundamental también en la danza…)."

By establishing this connection, Quintero Rivera is also revealing the myth that these two worlds were opposed and that el jíbaro was from la montaña while the slave lived in coastal areas. If there is some truth in Quintero Rivera's argument that these jíbaro music expressions were camouflaging resistance by creating melodic rhythms, it was probably a response to the repressive violence that slaves continued to encounter. It is really interesting that the very first music reference of Puerto Rico identified by Quintero Rivera will say
"Tumba la la la,
Tumba la la le
que en Poltorrico
escravo no quedé."

Again stressing that dialectic tension of the puertorriqueño/jíbaro/español against the esclavo/negro.
If one considers that these cimarrones -who later became jíbaros- needed to adopt a Hispanic identity, one will understand the dialectic tension between plantation/counter-plantation that characterizes the cultural production in the Caribbean. The "African heritage" of our culture will then be traced to the history of slavery, while that of the jíbaro pardo became the authentic native expression with European "contributions". In describing the types of dances performed in 1849, Manuel A. Alonso, who is considered to be the first costumbrista, says:
"En Puerto Rico hay dos clases de bailes: unos de sociedad, que no son otra cosa que el eco repetido allí de los de Europa; y otros, llamados de garabato, que son propios del país, aunque dimanan a mi entender de los nacionales españoles mezclados con los de los primitivos habitantes; conócense además algunos de las de Africa, introducidos por los negros de aquellas regiones, pero que nunca se han generalizado, llamándoseles bailes de bomba, por el instrumento que sirve en ellos de música…los [bailes] de los negros de Africa y los de los criollos de Curazao no merecen incluirse bajo el título de esta escena [Bailes de Puerto Rico]; pues aunque se ven en Puerto Rico, nunca se han generalizado: con todo hago mención de ello porque siendo muchos aumentan la grande variedad de danzas que un extranjero puede ver en solo una Isla, y hasta sin moverse de una población."

This description reflects how el jíbaro came to be understood as the European descendant, stressing the tension between those forced into a de-culturation process and those who will disguise themselves through an aculturation process. In the exclusion of Bomba from that of the Puerto Rican there is a discursive negation of a black presence in our culture; the garabato dances were opposed to that of the African even when the word itself emerged from an African instrument . Alvarez Nazario explains how these dances were later related to popular dances that were not accompanied by drums, thus identifying them against the plantations, which becomes the space associated with bomba.
If it is true that class rather than race has occupied the discussion forums of sociologists and historians, it is because we have gone through a process of social othering. This is to say that africannes is written onto our black bodies in a way that is then read in terms of their identities as that of the foreign, thus that of whom will never entirely become Puerto Rican. The following copla clearly exposes this social dilemma
"La tierra se va a perder:
culpa la tiene el dinero,
que el negro quiere ser blanco
y el mulato caballero"
Franz Fanon explains, through the idea of introjection, how the body configured as "the other" "starts to perceive his own body as uncanny, no longer familiar, even to himself" (words from Lepecki) . The frase mejorar la raza is not uncommon in the island, as it was part of the political and ideological agenda of the dominant class to "whiten" the race, the black considered as a social plague. Babin will speak about this in the following terms
"Tal vez el impulso del esclavo hacia el logro de su libertad en el siglo pasado le hizo temeroso del color de su piel, buscando 'mejorar la raza'."

The military re-enforcement in several ocassions during the XIX century to control and police the population; the immigration wave promoted by the government in order to enter capital from white christians as cualitative whitening process; the 1848 law Bando contra la raza africana, that arbitrarily cut individual liberties of many habitants merely by the pigmentation of their skin, and the Libreta de jornalero that took the place of the racist law are just a few historical facts that oppose the argument that racism has escaped the Puerto Rican nation, which continues to be a prevalent argument in most of the official discourse in the present time. The uncanny bodies of the popular masses of Puerto Rico have been constructed through a performative action that is revealed in the many descriptions of el jíbaro as puertorriqueño

"Color moreno, frente despejada,
mirar lánguido, altivo y penetrante,
la barba negra, pálido el semblante,
rostro enjuto, nariz proporcionada,
mediana talla, marcha acompañada,
el alma de ilusiones anhelante,
agudo ingenio, libre y arrogante,
pensar inquieto, mente acalorada,
humano, afable, justo, dadivoso,
en empresas de amor siempre variable,
tras la Gloria y placer siempre afanoso,
y en amor a su patria insuperable:
éste es a no dudarlo, fiel diseño
para copiar un buen puertorriqueño." (Alonso, 1849)

"…según la clasificación hallada en las Leyes de Indias en donde se dice que
Español con india, sale mestizo.
Mestizo con española, sale castizo.
Castizo con española, sale español.
Español con negra, sale mulato.
Mulato con española, sale morisco.
Morisco con española, sale salta-atrás.
Salta-atrás con india, sale chino.
Chino con mulata, sale lobo.
Lobo con mulata sale jíbaro.
Jíbaro con india, sale albarrazado.
Albarrazado con negra, sale cambujo.
Cambujo con india, sale sambaigo.
Saimbaigo con mulata, sale calpan-mulato.
Calpan-mulato con sambaigo, sale tente en el aire.
Tente en el aire con mulata, sale no te entiendo.
No te entiendo con india, sale ahí estás.
…el jíbaro tendría 31/64 de español, 25/64 de africano y 8/64 de indio; pero hoy los jíbaros somos españoles enteros y completes por deber, por derecho, por conveniencia y por afección: ciudadanos españoles por todos cuatro costados, a pesar de los matices de este u otro color físico o politico." (José Pablo Morales y Miranda, 1876)

"El concepto jíbaro nos entranca España…El jíbaro representa lo más entrañable, resistente y puro de la nacionalidad puertorriqueña" (María Teresa Babin, 1958)

"…la pura raza negra siempre fué perdiendo terreno en la Isla en favor de la raza mezclada, y las dos juntas lo fueron perdiendo en cuanto a la blanca." (Augusto Malaret)

Bomba dancers, as they continue to choreograph a counter-history throughout time and space in the urban centers where such performative construction of the Puerto Rican body is imposed as a national discourse, are embodying resistance. Against a printed memory that deliberately erased all signs of violence and diversity creating an imaginary hegemonic nation -La Gran Familia Puertorriqueña- the dancing bodies of bomba refuse to alienate themselves from their corporealities; posing a challenge to public norms through the intimacy of the bomba circle-community. As a participatory music-dance genre, bomba challenges the