The Day the Dancers Stayed: Performing in the Filipino/American Diaspora

Pilipino Cultural Nights at U.S. campuses have been a rite of passage for youth culture and a source of local community pride since the 1980s. Through performances - and parodies of them - these celebrations of national identity through music, dance and theatrical narratives reemphasize what it means to be Filipino American. In "The Day the Dancers Stayed", scholar and performer Theodore S. Gonzalves uses interviews and participant observer techniques to consider the relationship between the invention of performance repertoire and the development of diasporic identification. Gonzalves traces a genealogy of performance repertoire from the 1930s to the present. Culture nights serve several functions as exercises in nostalgia, celebrations of rigid community entertainment, and occasionally forums for political intervention. Taking up more recent parodies of Pilipino Cultural Nights, Gonzalves discusses how the rebellious spirit that enlivened the original seditious performances has been stifled.


“With acumen, verve, and a politics of style that effect an important counter-appropriation of performance studies in today’s American academy, The Day the Dancers Stayed offers a differently historicized analysis of the processes by which cultural—kinetic, aural, visual—knowledges get produced, repeated, and transformed. Gonzalves shows us or, more precisely and more crucially, reminds us how and why culture dies. And how it always lives on.”
— Sarita Echavez See, author of The Decolonized Eye: Filipino American Art and Performance

 

“Theo Gonzalves’ brilliant riff on the modes of cultural productions adroitly taps into new realms of discourse, locating multiple sites where cultural memories are crafted, authenticated, challenged, and reclaimed though the aesthetics of performance. Elegantly written and grounded in historical swirls complicated and connected by U.S. colonial policies in the Philippines, The Day the Dancers Stayed delves into Filipino/a experiences and the tenets of a sustained vision of nation/nationhood that marks the arrival of a talent whose remarkable work is a necessary text in cultural analyses.”
— Linda España-Maram, author of Creating Masculinity in Los Angeles’s Little Manila: Working-Class Filipinos and Popular Culture in the United States