TRIBAL LUMINESCENCE: In the form of electric tap dance

In the field of electrical engineering there’s the term triboluminescence, which refers to the light that’s created when two material objects are smashed against one another. For example, if you hit two pieces of quartz against one another a flash of light will occur. For this project I’ve changed the pronunciation of the term to being tribal luminescence, to refer to the power that shines bright in folk/traditional dance forms.

In the way that cultural histories are taught, there is often an assumption that in the pre-modern era people––particularly those outside the borders of western society––had very little understanding of science or the laws of physics. Folk dance forms are often considered to be ancient and therefore unassociated with technology and the modern world. My concern is that this way of teaching has caused us to become unable to recognize what production value actually looks like in contexts other than our own. My effort to restore control to folk ways stems from a conviction that science has always had a place in the cultural logics all around the world. By constructing a performance that allows the dancers to control the technology, the goal is to restore some intellectual and conceptual authority to these traditional forms. This project intends to amplify (visually and in other senses) the performance logic of folk traditions, so that today’s world can more immediately recognize the powers that have always been present.