Berkeley Study Abroad Fair - September 27 in the Pauley Ballroom

Bahia, Brazil
Berkeley Summer Abroad

Bahia, Brazil: Afro-Feminism, Dance, and Brazil

  • Summary

    Bahia, Brazil: Afro-Feminism, Dance, and Brazil is a six-week cultural experience rooted in social justice and black feminist pedagogy exploring the power of dance and performance with a particular focus on Afro-Brazilian dances, songs and rhythms for the Orixas, and Capoeira of the Candomble tradition.

    The course is designed to support students in strengthening socially engaged artistic practices and strategies for social change across national borders, and for students of all levels of dance/performance to learn and engage with the complexities of race and racism in Brazil through interactive workshops, lectures, and journal writing. No previous dance performance or language experience is required.

    Note that this program begins on the Berkeley campus, with a week of anti-racism training and workshops that provide a foundation for the work in this program around race, gender, and privilege. Participants will also begin to build a basic level of competency in conversational Portuguese.


    Mandatory on-campus component at UC Berkeley: July 8 -- July 12, 2019

    In Brazil: July 14 – August 16, 2019
    All dates are subject to change

    Units: 6 units

    Language of Instruction: English

    Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies: 113B


    • At least one year of college coursework completed by the start of the program
    • 2.0 GPA or higher
    • There are no prerequisites or restrictions for participation. No previous language experience is necessary. No previous dance experience is necessary. Students must be willing to explore physical movement and participate in the course activities.


    • Application opens February 4, 2019
    • Space is limited and applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis
    • Deadline to apply is March 15, 2019


    Student Visas for Brazil:

    All US passport holders are required to obtain a student visa for Brazil prior to departure. You will need to have a valid passport in hand (that expires no earlier than February 2020) before applying for the visa. The student visa process can take 3-4 weeks or longer to complete. During this time, the consulate will have your actual passport while your visa is processed. Traveling internationally prior to the start of your study abroad program will interfere with your visa application process. Contact the Brazilian Embassy to begin the process to obtain your visa.

    Non-US Citizens should Check with the consulate to which you hold a valid passport, as well as the Brazilian embassy, regarding visa requirements. Permanent Residents of the US should check with US Immigration as leaving the country may jeopardize permanent resident status. Tax clearance and re-entry forms may also be necessary in these cases. .

  • Courses

    During the program, you will take one course for a total of six UC Berkeley units.

    Course: TDPS 113B
    Title: Afro-Feminism, Dance, and Brazil
    Instructor: Amara Tabor Smith
    Units: 6 units

    This study abroad program offers an opportunity for students to engage in a dance, performance and cultural study experience in Bahia, Brazil rooted in a social justice and black feminist pedagogy. We are interested in working with students at all levels of dance and performance training to engage with the study and practice of understanding the complexities of race and racism in Brazil. These studies will be in collaboration with a cohort of students from the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA). Together, students will develop dance and performance practices and other forms of community assembly through the study of social movements in the cities of Salvador and Cachoeira--two center points for Afro Brazilian cultural activism. The course is designed to support students in strengthening socially engaged artistic practices and strategies for social change across national borders.

    In this course, we will focus on African Diaspora movement and cultural traditions from Bahia Brazil. Students will be introduced to the movement vocabularies and histories of dance and performance forms from this region with a particular focus on Afro-Brazilian dances, songs, and rhythms for the Orixas, and Capoeira with a particular focus on the Candomble tradition. Additionally, students will be introduced to black feminist and anti-racist pedagogies as the basis for our experience abroad. No previous dance or performance experience, or language experience is required to take this course.

    The second curricular emphasis is on the cultural, spiritual and historical relationships of dance and other artistic practices in Brazil and their relationship to the African diaspora experience of the United States. Students will examine the different relationships of the black experience within these geographic contexts through readings, viewings, seminar, lectures, and a dialogic reflection process. These studies will focus on the similarities and common movement practices that suggest continuities of lived experience through ancestral memory, common struggles against oppression, understanding the cross-cultural African diaspora experience, and the role of performance in communal life. Students will be introduced to films and readings from authors/black feminist thinkers such as Denise Ferreira da Silva, Beatriz Nascimento, Rachel Harding, Audre Lorde, Sylvia Wynter, Leda Martins, Katherine McKittrick, Octavia Butler, Wesley Days, and Angela Davis. Prior to arrival in Salvador, Bahia, students will engage in a preparation process for the program in Brazil on the UC Berkeley Campus consisting of workshops and seminars. The purpose of these sessions is to get to know each other, and introduce students to an intensive undoing racism workshop facilitated by the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. The program will help guide participants in a process of self- and collective- awareness around race, gender and privilege that provides the foundations for the work in the program. Participants will also begin to build a basic level of competency in conversational Portuguese The course emphasizes a contextual understanding of the African influences on the historical cultural, spiritual and theoretical traditions throughout Brazil and in particular the African influences on Bahian culture. The undoing racism training with the People's Institute will also inform the creation of an ongoing dialogue process for students and staff to continue to "unpack" their individual and collective experiences while in Bahia from an anti -acist, de-colonial perspective. We will meet on the UC Berkeley campus during this initial three day period to take advantage of the opportunity to study in person before departure for Brazil. A departure potluck dinner with faculty, students, and other collaborators of the program will be held at the end of this three day period in Berkeley for those students departing from the SF Bay Area. Once in Salvador, participants will be enrolled in intensive dance, language and cultural study classes and guest lectures with faculty from UC Berkeley, the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), and with local activists and artists in Bahia. Daily lunches together will provide a stronger sense of connection, and participants also have the opportunity to attend different performances throughout the city. Performances may include some of Bahia's most influential groups including Ile Aiye, Olodum, and Dida, an all female percussion ensemble. Additionally, students will attend Candomble ceremonies at terreiros (temples) such as Ile Oxumare, Ile Axe Apo Afonja, and Casa Branca, the oldest Candomble terreiro in Salvador. Candomble is an African Brazilian spiritual tradition that worships a pantheon of divinities known as Orixas, and whose sacred music and dances have had a deep influence on popular Brazilian music and dance forms such as Samba, Samba Reggae, Contemporary dance and Capoeira to name a few. During this time students will live in the Ondina neighborhood -a beach-front neighborhood in Salvador which is walking distance to UFBA, several restaurants, nightlife, and food markets, and is close to the popular beach communities of both Barra and Rio Vermelho. Ondina is also a 15-20 minute ride on public transportation to the Pelourinho– a historic center in Salvador which is home to several Capoeira and carnaval samba schools, the Esco la de Darn;a, many museums and historic sites of significance to our studies of African Brazilian history in Salvador.

    In the last week of the program, students will present performance work based on their experiences in the program in an evening festival to be held on the UFBA Campus. In the days following this performance, we will take a day trip to the small town inland from Salvador called Cachoeira, which is located on the Paragua9u River and is known as a center for the Candomble tradition. It is also close to several Quilombos (maroon settlements) whose existence dates back prior to the abolition of slavery in Brazil. The Cachoeira's rich visible history as the home for one of the most revered maternal organizations-Irmandade da Boa Morte (the Sisters of Good Death) --brings deeper meaning to this history, and the vibrant cultural and arts expression of black Brazil make it an important place to study, live, and deepen the recognition of Afro-descendant traditions in the Americas. Cachoeira will be active with the festival of Boa Morte, which takes place officially August 13-17th.

    The program culminates with students presenting their final projects in a performance festival on the UFBA Campus on August 11, followed by a day trip to the Festa da Boa Morte which takes place August 13-15 in Cachoeira.

    Students will be responsible for their own travel arrangements and securing their own passport and/or required travel visas for travel between the United States and Brazil.

    You can fulfill the L&S International Studies breadth requirement by full participation in a Berkeley Summer Abroad program. All of the required courses must be completed with a C-/P or better.

    Summer Abroad staff will enroll you in courses after your acceptance to the program. Please make sure there are no active blocks on your student account that may impact your course enrollment.

  • Costs

    Tuition and Program Fee

    The fees to participate in this program are broken down into 1) tuition and 2) program fees, which are applied to your student billing account as follows:

    2019 Fees UC Students Visiting Students
    Tuition (6 units) $2,514 $3,300
    Program Fee $2,562 $2,562
    Total Cost $5,076 $5,862

    Fees are subject to change. All non-UC Berkeley students must pay an additional Document Management Fee of $58.


    Estimated Out-of-Pocket Expenses

    In addition to the fees outlined above, Berkeley Study Abroad has estimated costs for out-of-pocket expenses. These amounts are used to calculate financial aid packages for eligible students. Actual expenses will vary depending on your lifestyle and spending habits.

    2019 Estimated Expenses Amount
    International Airfare and Transportation $1,498
    Additional Meals $220
    Books $210
    Personal Expenses (i.e. phone, passport, visas, etc.) $286
    Total Estimated Out-of-Pocket Expenses $2,214

    Financial Aid

    Financial aid is available for Berkeley students who are enrolled in at least 6 units during the summer. All other students should contact the financial aid office at their home institution for more information.

    Explanation of Fees

    Tuition is based on a per-unit cost:

    • The UC undergraduate student rate is $419 per unit
    • The visiting student rate for all non-UC participants is $550 per unit<
    The program fee includes* the following items:
    • Student housing for the duration of the program with breakfast every morning and some lunches.
    • On-site orientation activities, excursions, etc.
    • Travel insurance to cover accident/sickness medical coverage, emergency medical evacuation, security extraction, and other travel assistance services
    • Other program-related costs including fees for group transportation, guest speakers, etc.
    • The initial non-refundable deposit of $400, which is due at the time of application and is applied to the program fee

    *Please note that the list of items included in the program fee is not all-inclusive and is subject to change.

    The following items are excluded from the program fee:

    • International airfare
    • Personal expenses (souvenirs, routine medical expenses, toiletries, etc.)
    • Course materials (textbooks and readers)
    • Other travel expenses (passport, visa, etc.)
    • Additional meals
    • Commuting costs for daily travel to and from classes


  • Timeline
    Application opens February 4, 2019
    Application closes March 15, 2019
    Applicants notified of selection March 22, 2019
    Deadline to confirm participation or cancel for a refund of all program-related fees, minus $400 deposit April 5, 2019
    Attend pre-departure orientation* Late April-May
    First day of Program/Class in Berkeley July 8, 2019
    Arrive in Brazil July 14, 2019
    Last day of program August 16, 2019

    * These events take place on the UC Berkeley campus. If you are not on campus during this time, we will schedule a meeting via phone or Skype.

    † The mandatory on-campus component of this program takes place in Berkeley from July 8, 2019, to July 12, 2019. All students are required to attend the Berkeley portion of this program. Students then can check into program housing in Brazil on July 14, 2019, and will be expected to check out of program housing on August 16, 2019. Students who depart after the last day may do so, but they are responsible for arranging their accommodations outside of the program end date.

    All dates are subject to change.

  • Instructors

    Amara Tabor-Smith
    Program Director

    Amara Tabor-Smith, artistic director of Deep Waters Dance Theater (DWDT), received her MFA in dance from Hollins University and The Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts in Germany. She has performed in the works of theater and dance artists such as Anna Deveare Smith, Ronald K. Brown, Faustin Linyekula, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Paloma McGregor, Herbert Siguenza, Joanna Haigood, and she is the former associate artistic director and dancer with the Urban Bush Women Dance Company ( 1996- 2005). She has created work in collaboration with many dance and theater artists such as: Ellen Sebastian Chang, Jose Navarrete, Christal Brown, Byb Chanel Biben and was the co-artistic director of Headmistress (2009-2013); an ongoing collaboration with dancer Sherwood Chen. Amara describes her choreographic work as Afro-Futurist Conjure art. Her dance making practice utilizes Yoruba spiritual ritual to address issues of social and environmental justice, community, identity, and belonging. Her work with DWDT and Headmistress has been presented at Judson Church, CounterPULSE Theater, Rue Danse Festival in Brazzaville, Congo; Dancer's Group/ONSITE, ODC Theater, Dance Mission Theater and other venues both nationally and internationally. She has had the great pleasure of teaching at institutions such as SF State University, Naropa University, University of Colorado, Boulder, and Columbia College in Chicago. Residency awards include The Headlands Center for the Arts artist in residence, CHIME Mentorship Exchange grant, CounterPULSE artist in residence, Green Choreographers exchange at Dance Exchange in Tacoma Park, MD, ODC Theater in SF (2013-2015), and she is a 2018 residency artist fellow at Sacatar in Bahia, Brazil. Amara has received grants from The Zellerbach Family Foundation, East Bay Community Foundation, The Creative Work Fund, The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, Theatre Bay Area/CA$H. Amara's recent grants and fellowships include Creative Capital Grant (2016) and she is part of the inaugural cohort of the UBW Choreographic Institute Fellowship awards (2017).