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The Legacy of Fradique Lizardo: From Folklorist to Dance Master-Cultural Activist Title: Ethnomusicology Course Number: Music-696F

The Legacy of Fradique Lizardo: From Folklorist to Dance Master-Cultural Activist Title: Ethnomusicology Course Number: Music-696F
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  1 The Legacy of Fradique Lizardo: From Folklorist to Dance Master-Cultural Activist By Elijah Rasul University of Arizona May13, 2012 Instructor: Dr. Janet Sturman Course Title: Ethnomusicology Course Number: Music-696F  2 Introduction:  Fradique Lizardo (1930-1997) founded the Ballet Folklórico Dominicano in 1975. According to him, his primary motivation was to encourage the disadvantaged urban youth to participate in the performance of “authentic”  renditions of traditional song-dance genres  and related language/speech-based expressive forms, i.e. folktales. i  He sought to accomplish this undertaking by opening a dance school, and subsequently starting a dance company in Santo Domingo, the Capitol. He later opened satélites or branches in other urban centers such as San Pedro de Macorís and Santiago de Los Caballeros. His  justification for the choice of repertory of the dance company was based on his desire to give the audiences a panoramic view of the five major cultural components of Dominican society as a whole. For this reason the song-dance genres consisted of five basic types: (1) European-derived genres; (2) African-derived; (3) African derived via Haiti; (4)  creolized  ; (5  ) foráneos  or “foreign”. These designations will be discussed in more depth later in this paper. I had the pleasure of meeting Fradique Lizardo in 1988 while working for the Fine Arts Division of the Ministry of Education. ii  He invited me to observe the Ballet Folklórico Dominicano in rehearsal at Las Ruinas which was the name of the outdoor rehearsal site. iii  I attended many live performances, and became well-acquainted with the repertory. Although I had minimal contact with him after returning to the US in 1991, I had maintained contact vis a vis phone calls and email communications with those former members of the dance company who continue to reside in the Dominican Republic, and personal communications and collaborations with those members who now live in Reading , PA. iv  Upon hearing of his death in 2007, I took it upon myself to survey the scholarly literature that dealt with his life and works as a folklorist and “dance master”. I  discovered that Professor José G. Guerrero was in the process of spear-heading an undertaking with the assistance of other Dominican intellectuals who were dedicated to the preservat ion and dissemination of Fradique Lizardo’s  contributions to Dominican folklore studies as well as his commitment to the education and empowerment of the disadvantaged urban youth of Dominican Republic as a whole.  3 The purpose of this paper is to elucidate the transformation of Fradique Lizardo from a folklorist to a dance master and socio-cultural activist, on one hand, and to demonstrate how his research-to performance method could make a contribution to the fields of folklore, African American and African diaspora studies, Afro-Caribbean studies, and ethnomusicology. I will discuss the following topics in the designated order : (1) to shed light on the life and works of Fradique Lizardo; (2) to give a summary of his transformation from folklorist to dance master and socio-cultural activist; (3) to give an overall blueprint of the dance school and dance company; (4) to do a literature review of scholarly writings on the research-to-performance methods as it relates to dance research in the Caribbean; (5) a conclusion where I will summarize the content of this paper, identify a gap in research, and suggest future research topics in the above mentioned areas. The reader w ill be directed to the “Project -related Terms” section via the asterisk (*), and to illustrations in the “Supplementary Materials” section at the end of the paper. All translations of text have been done by the author of this paper. Life and Works of Fradique Lizardo: Early Period, Middle Period, Late Period. Early Period: folklore studies and independent field research, 1948-1960.   Fradique Lizardo was born on August 30, 1930 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. According to him he was inspired to pursue folklore studies after having learned of the unpublished results of the independent field research activities of Esteban Peña-Morel (1894-1939) conducted in 1929. v  He enrolled in the University of Santo Domingo in San Cristóbal in 1948 with a concentration in medicine. In 1949 he took it upon himself to engage in independent field research in Puerto Plata. His usual modus operandi was to seek out “knowledgeable members of the community” in ques tion who could direct him to local practitioners of a particular song-dance genre. He followed this up by gathering pertinent information on the history, performance style, and performance dates of the song-dance genre in question. vi  He was so pleased with the outcome of this project that he shifted his interest from medicine to philosophy and subsequently to folklore studies at that same university. He eventually decided to take a  4 “formal” course with Flérida de Nolasco in 1957 who had already published her first major scholarly work entitled El Carabiné in 1946. He eventually published his first scholarly work in 1957 on the same song-dang genre, e.g. El Carabiné. vii    Middle Periods: In exile in Cuba, Sweden, Denmark, 1960-1975:  Lizardo was compelled to leave the Dominican Republic in 1960 because of political unrest. His first stop was in Cuba where he studied folklore with Argeliers León, and collaborated with Ramiro Guerra who was a dancer, choreographer, dance master, and dance researcher. Through his studies with León, he was exposed to the scholarly writings of Fernando Ortiz on Afro-Cuban traditional music, dance, and culture. He was particularly fascinated with the 1951 publication entitled Los Bailes y el Teatro de los Negros en el Folklore de Cuba. He had acquired the knowledge of how to recontextualize ethnographic data through his collaboration with Ramiro Guerra who was affiliated with the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional at the time. All information concerning Guerra’s research -to-performance method was disclosed in his 1989 publication entitled Teatricalizacion del Folklore y otros ensayos.  Although Lizardo had already left in 1962, it stands to reason that the “seeds” had already been planted.  Except for a brief stay in Santo Domingo between 1963 and 1964, he spent the remainder of his exile in Europe studying ethnography and art history. viii  He studied ethnography with Siguard Linne in Estocolmo, Sweden, between 1964 and 1967, and art history with Else Kai Sas in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 1969 and 1973. It appears that he was most influenced by the scholarly writings of Carl Von Sydow who was known for his theory of the Ur-form which was the archetypal form of a folktale from which all variants manifested themselves away from the center. ix  L ate Period: transformation from folklorist to dance master-cultural advocate, 1975-1990. Lizardo had returned from Europe in 1975, and it was evident to all of his colleagues and associates that he had undergone a transformation in his overall philosophical view of his mission in life as well as his theoretical orientation as a  5 folklorist. He remained with his fundamental mission to “ rescue ”  or “ recover ”  vanishing traditional dance, music, and language-based expressive forms, but had broadened his conceptual framework to consider the notions of “cultural syncretism” and “creolization”  when assessing data . * He also expanded on his approach to field research technique by including an organological component, and adapting the dance/movement notation systems of Gertrude Kurath (1959) and Noa Eshkol (1973) to his own method of notating dance movements. x What was most unique a bout this “new” approach was that he included the African component in the racial composition of the Dominican Republic. He began by doing a comprehensive study of Spanish participation in Atlantic Slave Trade as it applied to the island of “Hispaniola” in the early 16 th  Century (1979). xi  He viewed the “culture area” t o be more diasporic in nature. That is, he viewed the African and African-derived component(s) in the Dominican Republic to be of four sources: West African (Yoruba, Bantu), French-speaking Caribbean (New Orleans, Haiti); English-speaking Caribbean; and Spanish-speaking Caribbean (Cuba). xii  The results of his organological research allowed him to trace certain instrument types back to the Yoruba- and Bantu-speaking cultural-linguistic groups of West Africa (Lizardo 1976, 1988). The Escuela de Bailes Folklóricos de la Dirección de General de Bellas Artes : The Satélites   of Dance Schools for Urban Youths in Santo Domingo, San Pedro de Macoris, and Santiago de los   Caballero s, 1975-1997.  Summary of mission statement, teacher training program, overall program of study, and course content. 1.   Philosophical basis/Purpose .- to educate the youth of the importance of having knowledge of the expressive forms of their own folkloric traditions as well as being engaged in the performance of these expressive forms. 2.   Teacher Training Program -FL recruited knowledgeable practitioners from different regions of the island to serve as instructors or bastoneros.* They were taught how to interpret the dance/movement notational systems of Eshkol and Kurath, in addition to transliterating those systems to a blueprint-like display of choreographic movements.
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