Volume 3, Number 1 (2012)
The Evolution of Dance: A Caribbean Perspective
The evolution of dance in our region requires a clear understanding of the pre-colonial past of the Caribbean. Areito or areyto (plural areitos) was a ceremony associated with ancestor worship performed by the Taino people of the Caribbean. These important ceremonies involved dances and music and played an important role in Taino social, political, and religious life. Areitos usually took place in the main plaza of a village or in the area in front of the chief's house. These areas worked as dance grounds and were limited by an earthen embankment or by a series of standing stones, often decorated with carved images of zemi, mythological beings or noble ancestors. The purpose of areito ceremonies was for the living to communicate with the spirit world. This was attained through music, dances and reaching ecstatic states through hallucinogenic substances.