This Afro-Latina Is Using Dance as an Act of Resistance


In a recent video on her Instagram, Yorelis Apolinario is wearing a t-shirt with a photo of the 1968 Oympics Black Salute with U.S. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos. She dances to “I’ve Carried This for Years,” an interlude on Ibeyi’s latest album “Ash” which she says represents her Cuban culture beautifully. The video’s caption says, “I carry the weight of women. I carry the weight of the women that came before me. I carry the weight of my oppressed ancestors and I carry the weight of my ancestors that were the oppressors. I carry the weight of black, mixed and Afro-Latina women. This is the strength I carry it with.”

Apolinario is an Afro-Latina movement artist and former contestant on the show “So You Think You Can Dance?” from Tampa, Florida. Over the years, Apolinario has created a social media presence sharing her talent that has left many admiring her work, including Diana Ross who reposted her video. She produces and collaborates with other female movement artists in videos that stand up against issues that directly affect her as a woman of color.

When I [first] heard the song, I thought ‘woo, this song is powerful.’ I feel like I carry everything, everybody does,” she says. “I specifically wanted to use the video “I’ve carried this for years” to represent the strength my community has despite all of the existing issues.”

In another project titled “Change,” Apolinario and movement artists Crystal Jackson and SHEstreet dance to Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” while their hands are bonded with a rope “to state that although black and brown people are no longer bound by slavery as it was back then, we are still bound by different forms of oppression,” she says.

In collaboration with SHEstreet for “Blackbird,” they repeat a movement that resembles a bird attempting to fly but fails due to bondage. “Think of the bondage as the setbacks black and brown communities have as we continually attempt to “fly,” she says.

The conversation on whether arts and sports should be political is one that we’ve been having for quite some time now, most recently with Laura Ingraham from Fox News telling Lebron James to “shut up and dribble” and stay away from talking about the political climate. However, the arts has always been political in this country and continues to be. Apolinario’s dance movements are a representation of both the pain and strength that people of color experience, which is political.

“Being able to make a political statement makes me feel powerful [and] doing so with my movement artistry makes me feel invincible,” Apolinario says. “My movement art is both an act of resistance and strength. I want to continue to collaborate with artists of all kind that share similar goals and I hope we can create a voice that is so loud, change can no longer be avoided.”

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