Throughout the annals of dance scholarship, an enduring thesis recurrently associates the labor inherent in art production, and especially dance, to mechanisms akin to the industrial complex. Within the context of Black dance and African diaspora, this discourse ventures further, drawing parallels to the shadows of the plantation era. A predominant assertion suggests that the pronounced physicality observed in styles, such as Caribbean dance, is inextricably linked to the plantation paradigm, implying that the Black body, conditioned for labor under colonial dominion, inevitably expresses this laborious legacy in its artistic manifestations.

However, my focal research trajectory, anchored in the ritualistic, spiritual, and FUBU (For Us, By Us) dance modalities, prompts a critical interrogation of this prevailing narrative. Can it truly be postulated that the distinct physicality and fervor, manifested after exhaustive days of toil, are solely residues of a colonial past? The richness of my observations led to the conceptualization of processes that I denominate as “revitalizing the exhausted body” and the intricacies of jocundity.

The process of revitalization underscores the symbiotic relationship between rhythm, polyspirit practices (the simultaneous channeling of multiple spirits), and jocundity, intertwined with grounded movement, all of which collectively confer a therapeutic and restorative salve to the dancer’s being—mentally, physically, and metaphysically.

Jocundity, a nuanced concept within Black art forms and collective activities, epitomizes the deliberate fostering and celebration of joy. This multifaceted embodiment is not merely an ephemeral emotion but represents a deliberate collective commitment to elevate joy as a potent counterforce to systemic adversities. By intentionally imbricating joy into their artistic lexicon, individuals and communities assert agency, challenging and reframing hegemonic discourses.

In ritualistic contexts, this nexus between jocundity and the revitalization of the body elucidates a nuanced understanding of labor, eschewing reductionist interpretations. The invocation of spirits, the mutual spiritual elevations within communal settings, and the collective savoring of joy necessitate a committed physical engagement. Yet, this engagement is not tethered to external impositions, neither the colonial overseer nor the voyeuristic tourist. It emerges organically from intra-community bonds, a shared recognition that healing and joy are somatic experiences, necessitating physicality.

Consequently, it is imperative to recalibrate our perceptions of African diaspora dance, liberating it from reductive associations with historical subjugations. Instead, it merits recognition as an eloquent articulation of community, resilience, and the intrinsic bond between joy, healing, and embodiment. Through the language of dance, histories, aspirations, joys, and traumas are expressed, evoking a communal ethos dedicated to rejuvenation, resistance, and restorative engagements.