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Free Content Japanized flamenco: Sensory shifts in a transcultural relocation of a dance genre

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The indigenization and domestication of foreign (western) culture in Japan has, according to Koichi Iwabuchi, led to an increasing variety of ‘modes of indigenized modernities’. Flamenco dancing, I argue, presents one such mode. Since the 1980s, Japanese women have been appropriating and adapting flamenco, an assumed local, ‘authentic’ Spanish genre turned into a so-called world music/dance, to their cosmopolitan dreams. They have turned flamenco in Japan into modern dance. This case shows that the relocation of a global genre through cultural adaptation should never be taken as a mere act of imitation, since the embedding of the genre into a new sociocultural environment requires adjustments to both the pre-existing ways of learning in the new environment as well as to the new meanings the genre may have for its apprentices. This is so, even in a society as reputed for cultural imitation as Japan. In this case, it is exactly the local social developments concerning femininity and modernity that explain flamenco’s appeal to Japanese women. The genre’s sound-based quality, as identified through a sensory analysis of their learning and transmission processes, revealed itself to be quintessential in terms of these women expressing their newly found sense of self. Adaptation of form and content has rendered a distinct, female and Japanized flamenco.

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Keywords: Japan; cultural adaptation; flamenco; gender; modernity; sensory analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Amsterdam

Publication date: 01 June 2014

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  • This journal focuses on the relationship between dance and somatic practices, and the influence of this body of practice on the wider performing arts. The journal will be aimed at scholars and artists, providing a space for practitioners and theorists to debate the work, to consider the impact and influence of the work on performance, the interventions that somatic practices can have on other disciplines and the implications for research and teaching.
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