Stomping Ground: Modern Female Bodies and Flamenco in Tokyo
A lecture by Dr. Yolanda M. van Ede in the Colloquium Musicologicum
This presentation addresses the complex interactions between localization and globalization through bodily practices in the context of Japanese flamenco. Spanish Flamenco has gained immense popularity in Japan, especially among women. A highly gendered phenomenon, Japanese appropriation of flamenco links the dancers bodily to certain imageries and representations of places far away; in this case, southern Spain. In the course of its adaptation, however, flamenco has become adjusted to local meanings and practices. Sensory structures in processes of transmission are the cultural incentive; the dance is embedded in local cultural aesthetics as well as re-enacting particular local practices. A comparison of Japanese flamenco dancing with both Spanish flamenco performance and dominant Japanese sensory orientations highlights the importance of sound. On one hand, “Japamenco” is embedded in global developments whereby flamenco has become more of a spectacle than a musical collaboration between singers, musicians, and dancers. On the other hand, its focus on the dancer’s footwork emphasizes sound, particularly the amplification of sound, which runs against hegemonic Japanese aesthetics of femininity. Viewed in the context of modernity’s association with hyper-aesthesia, or an overabundance of sensory stimuli, flamenco offers Japanese women a localized stage on which they can present themselves as modern and cosmopolitan, not merely visually, but foremost aurally.
Dr. Yolanda van Ede is senior lecturer at the anthropology department at the University of Amsterdam. She has been researching gender, ritual and religion, and the anthropology of the senses, until she returned to her initial passion, dance. She conducted field research on flamenco in Tokyo and social/ballroom dancing in Manilla. Currently, she is a part-time student in fine arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, in a quest for more creativity in anthropological methodology and knowledge (re)presentation.
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