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The Boston Globe

Business

Dancing for Haiti

One artist’s quest to help preserve the country’s culture and promote healing.

Growing up in a strict, middle-class family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jean Appolon learned early that two things were forbidden to him: the spiritual beliefs of Vodou and the physical movement of dance.

To his parents, Vodou was a cult of the poor, practiced by relatives Appolon wasn’t allowed to see. He was taught to fear the sound of drums. He knew nothing of Vodou’s galvanizing role in Haiti’s independence from France, the only successful slave revolt in history. As for dancing, that was a pursuit reserved for girls and masisi — the Haitian Creole slur for gay men.

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