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The Case For Emancipated Waistlines

By: Natassia Morris

Bubble. Wuk up. Wining. And yes, even twerking. Anyhow you say it, the scintillating movement found throughout the Diaspora, once seen as a vulgar movement expression practiced by enslaved Africans, has become widely popular and accepted across cultures.

[Side bar: Before I continue, I want to clarify one thing - there is no “h” in wine. It’s wine like the drink, NOT whine like the sound your children make when you take away their devices…but I digress].


Wining for me is sacred. When I wine, I feel the connection to my African roots and invoke all the ancestors who paved the way so that I could do so freely.


"...the scintillating movement found throughout the Diaspora, once seen as a vulgar movement expression practiced by enslaved Africans, has become widely popular and accepted across cultures"

The rhythmic rotation of the hips and pelvis can be seen in traditional dances across the Caribbean region - Haitian Kompa, Jamaican Brukkins, Trinidadian Piqué, Cuban Rumba for example - fueled by the rhythm of the drum. Throughout history, colonial powers in the Caribbean sought to end the practice of drumming by imposing bans, therefore hoping to stop the Africans from dancing and celebrating.However they didn’t know that the enslaved and formerly enslaved Africans walked with the rhythm of the drums in their very being. Walk down the Lake Shore during the tail end of the Carnival parade and you can see it all now. Tired no ass (translation: tired as f***) and heavily intoxicated with spirits, we walk (or march or “chip”) down de road with that swing in our hips, what we in Trinidad call a “walk and wine”. No matter how they tried to quell the dance and music (which are intrinsically linked), the resilience of our ancestors would ensure that our wine prevailed.


There are many who attribute the Caribbean wine to a specific region in Africa - the Congo. With research that estimates that more than 5 million Congolese people were enslaved and sent to work on plantations in the Caribbean, South America (predominantly Brazil) and the US, as well as recent findings that connect large amounts of people of African descent in the Americas to the Congo, I can understand the claim. I have some good good Congolese friends here in Toronto and I can attest to the skilfulness of their waistlines. However, I can also most certainly see wining influences from all across the continent, from Ethiopia to South Africa and countries in between. Regardless of its specific origins, wining as an artform has come a long way.


"I can attest to the skilfulness of their waistlines. However, I can also most certainly see wining influences from all across the continent, from Ethiopia to South Africa and countries in between. Regardless of its specific origins, wining as an artform has come a long way"

The rise in wine specific movement classes in the GTA are a testament to that. The simple act of rotating your pelvis as a celebration of life is such a joyful experience that people will pay money to join others in the practice.We are wining and getting that paper? Hell yes!

We still have plenty wining to do. And with every wine (and twerk and bubble and wuk up) I imagine how the ancestors must be smiling down at the synchronous rolling waistlines, still defiant - and forever emancipated. Trow Waist!







 

Natassia Morris

Raised in a performing arts family, Natassia has been actively involved in the arts and culture sector in Toronto since immigrating to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago in the early ‘90’s. She has studied various dance techniques throughout her three decade artist trajectory, including African-Caribbean, Caribbean Folk, West African, Jazz, Classical Ballet, and Modern Techniques (Dunham, Graham, and Horton). An accomplished choreographer and dance instructor, Natassia has created and presented works for the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, Carabram, Nuit Blanche, and the Luminato Festival.


Natassia is currently co-writing a new play on the roots of Carnival culture told from a Toronto perspective, and continues to share her cultural stories and knowledge through dance education workshops in communities across the GTA and in Toronto’s school boards. She is also a seasoned media, marketing and communications professional with over a decade of experience across sectors including in the arts, not-for-profit, education and corporate.

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