Maria Zayas

My name is Maria Zayas and I am a rising senior majoring in Spanish and Latin American and Caribbean Studies, with a minor in Sociology. These programs have helped me grow as a student through the various papers and projects I have completed. However, I wish to expand my research of some of the topics I began to explore. By doing so within the context of Digital Humanities, I will be able to delve deeper into these topics. Specifically, I want to focus on the influences on dance and music in the Caribbean, with special attention directed to the Latin American islands of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. These influences include African, Indigenous, and European Influences. I look forward participating in the DH Summer Scholars Program!


Pietrobruno, Sheenagh.  Salsa and its Transnational Moves.  Lexington Books, Lanham, MD.  2006.  Print.

            This book is an excellent source for my project and a great starting point.  Salsa is referenced both as dance and music that are inextricably linked, which is an important point I would like to convey.  While the majority of the book focuses on the Montreal salsa scene, both the introduction and the first chapter give extensive information on the history and roots of salsa.  Included in this information is specific European and African cultural aspects and dances that preceded salsa and are part of its formation, which is key for my research.  I can use this information as a starting point to further investigate the influences on salsa.

“Roots of Rhythm.”  YouTube, published by SalsaClub CSUF.  31 July 2013.

            This informative series originally aired on PBS is hosted by Harry Belafonte and traces Latin Music from its African and Spanish origins to today.  Included in this variety of music is salsa.  The information is particularly useful to me because it builds upon the same information as the source above without the constrain of describing music and dance in words.  Rather, the series enables the viewer to see the specific influences in their natural forms.  Seeing and hearing salsa and the influences will enable me to construct a more accurate project. 

“Genres.”  Cuba Music Week, The ARChive of Contemporary Cuban Music.  2019.             This site is run by the largest independent popular music collection in the world, ARC.  They work in conjunction with Columbia University Libraries, Open, Rockamedia, and The Internet Archive.  One of the types of projects they enjoy focusing on is a foray into music

of a different culture, which is how Cuba Music Week was born.  As part of this project, a glossary of genres was created, which will help me define certain salsa influences and perhaps find more.

McMains, Juliet.  Spinning Mambo into Salsa: Caribbean Dance in Global Commerce.  Oxford University Press, New York, New York.  2015.  Print.

This book is an ethnography on the evolution and commercialization of salsa, with special attention given to the dance.  The major hubs of New York, Miami, and Los Angeles are the cities of focus.  An excellent job is done depicting influences, major moments and shifts, and different styles of salsa.  This book will help with the salsa dance section of my project in identifying influences and evolution. 

“The Black Roots of Salsa.”  Attic Independent Production, accessed via Kanopy.  2016.

            This documentary was filmed in Cuba and discusses salsa through music, dance, and oral history.  This source is highly valuable to my project because it goes straight to the source of where salsa originated, giving me unique access to information that may be filtered in other sources.  I will use this documentary specifically for its information on Cuban origins of salsa, particularly the extensive conversation about the rumba.

“La Rueda de la Vida.”  Patchworks Productions, accessed via Kanopy.  2016.             This documentary was filmed in Cuba and interviews El Oso, one of the founders of Casino dance, which would eventually launch salsa dancing.  The documentary does an excellent job depicting the historical events and dance evolution surrounding salsa.  This source is highly valuable to my research because it gives

me a firsthand account of how salsa as a dance evolved, which is a key component of my project.

“Latin Music USA- Hour 2: The Salsa Revolution.” YouTube, published by DJ Caravan.  Originally shown on PBS.

            This video is part of a series created by PBS that discusses different genres of Latin Music.  Focusing on salsa, this portion of the series details the evolution of salsa in New York, with interviews with many of the salsa greats.  This source is crucial to my project because it shows how different influences merged to create salsa in New York and directly interviews musicians who were key to the success of salsa.

Bernand, Carmen.  “Músicas mestizas, músicas populares, músicas latinas: gestación colonial, identidades republicanas, y globalización.”  Co-herencia, vol. 6 no. 11.  Medellín.  Jul./Dec. 2009.

            This article depicts the evolution of creole music in Latin America.  Through documenting the historical evolution and the contributions of African and indigenous sounds, this article is helpful not only in documenting the roots of salsa, but the roots of all Latin music.  This article will be useful in determining the original sources of influence of salsa that evolved into the music predeceasing salsa and then into salsa.

Gandía, Nicolás Ramos.  “Historia de la Salsa, desde las raíces hasta el 1975.”  Catedrático Asociado de Matemática.  Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Arecibo.

            This article is a comprehensive overview of the history of salsa outlining the influences that created it and it’s history.  It goes into detail for each dance that influenced salsa, as well as important historical moments.  This article is crucial to my project because it has many of the same goals as mine and helps clearly and chronologically identify the influences on salsa. 


  1. Wix:  an important component of my project is the creation of a website to display and share my work.  As someone who is not tech savy, it is important that the website is easy to build.  Wix provides all the tools necessary for my website while being easy to use
  2. Timeline JS:  crucial for the display of my information, it is important I find a timeline to display my information.  Timeline JS fits my needs well because it allows me to easily create a timeline within a Google spreadsheet and include YouTube videos, which is a crucial.
  3. YouTube:  when translated into words, there are aspects of music and dance often lost in translation.  In order to prevent the loss in translation, it is important that I use videos in my timeline in addition to text.  YouTube enables me to find the videos I need and can be embedded into my timeline.

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