Kalymnian music and dance in Tarpon Springs, Florida
League, Panayotis F.
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Greek immigrants from the Dodecanese island of Kalyrnnos have dominated the social, political, and economic life of Tarpon Springs, Florida since their arrival in the first decades of the twentieth century. Remarkably unlike the typical urban immigrant experience, this dynamic has allowed the Kalyrnnian-American community of Tarpon Springs to negotiate its relationship with American society from a position of relative power, without the immediate need to compromise linguistic, social, or occupational identity for the sake of survival. The cultural and artistic traditions of Kalymnos-foremost among them music and dancing-have played a central role in the construction of Kalyrnnian-American identity in Tarpon Springs, and have enabled a creative negotiation on the community's own terms ofthe states of"hyphenated being" that characterize immigrant communities. In this thesis, I examine the ways in which Kalymnian Tarponites use embodied musical movement as a resonant bridge between competing cultural allegiances, a means of imaginative travel in search of emotional fulfillment, and a venue to perform notions of distinction and belonging. For Kalymnian residents of Tarpon Springs, the embodied music and dance traditions of Kalyrnnos function as mobile sites of tension and transcendence, are imbued with a new set of self-sufficient meanings, and serve as a passport to cross the blurry borders of transnational being.
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