Accepted Paper:

'A mi cielo': Japanese flamenco students in Sevilla, Spain  


Yolanda van Ede (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

The Japanese are renowned masters of imitation including of Spanish flamenco. Instead of partaking in discussions on essence and authenticity, I propose to look at style as a difference of method, instruction and appropriation, from a sensorial perspective, to understand Japanese flamenco.

Paper long abstract:

Based on ethnographic research in Sevilla, Andalusia, this paper presents an exploration of the methodological differences in learning flamenco dance between Spanish flamenco students and teachers, and Japanese students; and some mutual misunderstanding based on these differences.

With a shared history of more than three decades, about 650 flamenco schools in Japan today, and an estimated 80.000 Japanese aficionados, a 'Japanese flamenco' (furamenko) has emerged. Critics and performers, Spanish and Japanese, acknowledge the Japanese variation as a distinct style. WHAT turns a style different is too often imbedded in moral discussions; particular within the flamenco discourse of 'rootedness', jondo, and puro. Instead, I argue that style is a performative competence, a practical kind of knowledge focusing on HOW. Only by taking style as its method, and not as its commonsensical opposition to content, the 'what' (and 'why') of Japanese flamenco can be understood. This approach avoids the ongoing (un)ethical-aesthetical discussions that miss flamenco's global development as a 'world music', an understanding of its universal appeal, and its local 'appropriations'.

In investigating the employed methods of both instruction and acquirement, (an anthropology of) the senses show to be at the heart of aesthetic valuations and of dominant learning systems in Spain and Japan.

Panel W062
Dance, Europe and the ethnographic encounter