Call for Papers, International Congress: A CENTURY OF DANCE IN SPAIN (1836-1936) Identities, repertoires, imaginaries and contexts


Due May 15, 2021

This international conference seeks to encompass the century of dance between 1836 and 1936, the limits of a period marked by two milestones which act as turning points in the trajectory of Spanish dance. The first one was the premier in Paris of Le diable boiteux, the ballet-pantomime set in Madrid where the Austrian dancer Fanny Elssler performed her later famous Cachucha , an icon of Spanish dance seen from a foreign viewpoint. The second milestone was the death of Antonia Mercé La Argentina, the Spanish Dancer with the widest international presence in the first half of the 20th century, Which Took place on 18th July 1936, the same day When a coup d'etat against the Second Republic provoked the outbreak of the Civil War.

Throughout that century, the evolution and circulation of dance, its artistic and political use, and its capacity to transfer messages and build imaginaries were crucial in the construction of a national identity, based on ideological, social, aesthetic and gender frictions. However, despite this essential role in recent cultural history, the presence of dance in the collective narratives is still very limited and there are many unknown issues. Little by little, recent research has uncovered brilliant episodes between Romanticism and the Spanish Silver Age, but it is still necessary to shed light on diverse aspects and to interweave the narratives into a broader panorama and other case studies within an international context.

With the aim of collaborating in the generation of knowledge around dance between 1836 and 1936, this international conference seeks to unite experts in different areas to address common issues from diverse perspectives throughout various sessions. Thus, firstly we propose to study the repertoire in this century of dance and its critical reception, paying attention to the particularities that caused the distinction between genres, the configuration of the language of Spanish dance and its different branches (bolero school, flamenco, folklore and stylized dance), and its coexistence with ballet of French-Italian influence. Alternative spaces to the theatrical circuits will be taken into account, such as the tablao, the cabaret, the circus and sports locations.

Secondly, we will look at categories associated with identity, especially from gender perspectives. We propose rethinking the intrinsic androgynous beauty ideal interweaved (implicit?) At the beginning of the emancipation of the female dancing body, as well as the scenic transvestism and other gender embodiments. The stage will be considered a place for aesthetic, identity, social, political and sexual freedom where coloniality and the invisibility of the “other” are also registered. How can we interpret the so-called “white gypsies”? Where can we locate the homosexual dances or the flamenco practices as an umbrella for race / sex / class dissent? How could the Ballets Russes influence the transmission of an orientalist, exotized and primitivist gaze? How are new gender identities revealed in the dancing body? Which factors intervene in the codification, construction or rupture of the binary body who dances “en hombre” and “en mujer”? Was the dancing body between the 19th and 20th centuries an aesthetic and political symptom of a new utopic society? Where can we situate the relationships between "Indian", "black", "Arab" and "gypsy" with flamenco and which strategies have led to its incorporation in state structures as a supposed national identity?

Thirdly, we invite proposals examining the biography, professional trajectory and / or artistic output of any choreographer, dancer, composer, writer or designer of the period. We particularly seek research that establishes connections of any kind (eg shared training, creative collaborations or artistic affinities) able to trigger new readings of the mutually inspiring connections between the global and the local. Focus on forgotten or undervalued female dancers and / or choreographers will be most welcomed.

Fourthly, we encourage reflections on the concepts and methodological tools appropriate to shape a precise and sophisticated critical examination of the dance of the period. We seek proposals on notions which could help to overcome the lack of rigor and absence of technical terminology in much of the existing writing on the period as well as providing research in dance with critical tools able to encompass the plurality, diversity and complexity of the different layers at work in current historical inquiries. Questions to address include but are not limited to: what do we understand by 'ballet,' 'classical dance,' or 'academic dance'? What is 'Spanish dance'? Is it pertinent to keep using concepts such as 'school', recurrently used in the historiography of the period? What is' popular, '' modern, '' avant-garde, 'or' traditional 'in this context? How do we define or deconstruct the genres and styles from this century of dance?

Finally, we also welcome proposals that discuss the methodologies for and the artistic experiences of dance reconstruction or re-enactment of works from this period. We welcome artistic reflections on the creative process involved in the re-enactment as well as research outputs focused on lost pieces or on dancing techniques of the period. We accept lecture-demonstrations, video recordings, oral presentations or any combination of the above.