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“¿Y ahora que vas a hacer, mulata?”: Hip choreographies in the Mexican cabaretera film Mulata (1954)

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Abstract:

This essay examines the film Mulata (Martinez Solares 1954) starring Cuban vedette Ninon Sevilla through the various performances of mulata identity featured in the film. By introducing the theory of hip(g)nosis and the sentience corpo-mulata, these theoretical models demonstrate how a body racialized as mulata choreographs identity through gestures, bodily articulations, and socio-historically inscribed movement repertoires associated with this particular corporeality. The development of these terms intends to show the complexities that bodies add to history, as well as their impact on cultural production and notions of territoriality, nationalism and citizenship. These terms also highlight the pleasure, sensuality and affect involved in identity construction. Finally, by providing examples of these theories through a close reading of Ninon Sevilla's performances of the title character in the film Mulata, the essay provides a way to rethink the mulata as something other than “tragic.”

Keywords: Cuba; Mulata; Ninon Sevilla; corporeality; dance; mulata; orishas; performances of race and gender

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07407700802495951

Affiliations: Department of Dance, Film and Theatre, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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