Presentation of the approach used

Danses sans visa is proposing a look at the history of dances in relation to the movement of peoples around the world, based on a selection of video clips from France’s national television archive, the Institut national de l'audiovisuel (INA).

For the study, dance history specialists delved into the INA archives to select sixty videos. The videos present the background of iconic dances, analyzing their development and their relationship with population movements. They include dancers, choreographers, academics, researchers and writers, recognized as being authorities for each of the dances: Eric Falc'her-Poyroux, Stan Lehericy, Florence Boyer, Edmony Krater, Corinne Frayssinet-Savy, Christian Dubar, Simon Valzer, Marie-Christine Vernay, Thomas James Lord, Fabrice Hatem, Pol Briand, and James Carlès.

Each video clip is accompanied by a text in French and English. The different entries - cartographic, chronological and thematic - are all ways of appropriating this tool.

Looking into the origins of a dance is a delicate task, and this site does not claim to give an exhaustive account of the history of the different dances. It endeavours to lift the veil just enough to allow us to gain insight into their possible origins, remembering that many other dances could also be addressed, and multiple other possible backgrounds considered.
Our study takes into consideration the quickening proliferation of dances made possible through the use of new communication tools which are now bringing dances to the fore at light speed, when it would have taken several centuries to 'migrate' them in the past.

We will be focusing on dances performed in ballrooms and on the street, dances that are the expression of different peoples in all their diversity. These include dances used for protesting, for fighting, for entertainment: the different moves have a meaning, and are an integral part of the society they mirror... The origins we have uncovered are sometimes complex, or may even be questionable, but nevertheless they do not alter the fact that the rhythms and music in question have travelled across borders in the same way as people.
The development of dance steps is analyzed in terms of migratory movements, be they forced (from slavery to exile) or voluntary.
We shall be looking at a wide array of dances from Irish tap dancing, to capoeira, including modern afropop, tango and salsa, the haka, social dances, hip hop, West Indian dances and flamenco. The dances shall be analyzed in terms of the journey they have made across borders, and across continents from Africa to Europe, passing through Oceania, the Caribbean and the Americas.

Annie Bozzini

Director of CDC Toulouse/Midi-Pyrénées