Choreographing in Color

Choreographing in Color

Filipinos, Hip-hop, and the Cultural Politics of Euphemism

The book chronicles 50-years of Hip-hop culture with roots in transnational, interracial, and postcolonial formations across the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, and more. 

Dr. Perillo offers insights from over 80 key artists to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the intersections of Black and Filipino cultures. 

The book uncovers the structural dynamics of racism and patriarchy necessary for understanding how arts address social fragmentation, human displacement, and cultural dispossession.

In Choreographing in Color, J. Lorenzo Perillo investigates the development of Filipino popular dance and performance since the late 20th century. Drawing from nearly two decades of ethnography, choreographic analysis, and community engagement with artists, choreographers, and organizers, Perillo asserts the importance in shifting attention away from the predominant Philippine neoliberal and U.S. imperialist emphasis on Filipinos as superb mimics, heroic migrants, model minorities, and natural dancers and instead asks: what does it mean for Filipinos to navigate the violent forces of empire and neoliberalism with street dance and Hip-Hop?

Employing critical race, feminist, and performance studies, Perillo analyzes the conditions of possibility that gave rise to Filipino dance phenomena across viral, migrant, theatrical, competitive, and diplomatic performance in the Philippines and diaspora. Advocating for serious engagements with the dancing body, Perillo rethinks a staple of Hip-Hop’s regulation, the “euphemism,” as a mode of social critique for understanding how folks have engaged with both racial histories of colonialism and gendered labor migration. Figures of euphemism—the zombie, hero, robot, and judge—constitute a way of seeing Filipino Hip-Hop as contiguous with a multi-racial repertoire of imperial crossing, thus uncovering the ways Black dance intersects Filipino racialization and reframing the ongoing, contested underdog relationship between Filipinos and U.S. global power

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"Choreographing in Color is a milestone in Filipino Studies, cultural studies and the transnational study of dance as a world-making process. Perillo looks at the multi-sited creativity of Filipino dancers and dance cultures as they cross cultural, national, and ethno-racial borders. Sensitive to the colonial and postcolonial histories of Filipinos and the Philippines, this book advances a capacious and complex picture of dance's exuberant and critical role in a globalizing world."

Martin F. Manalansan, Author of Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora.