chapter  7
26 Pages

The Dancing Gaze Across Cultures: Kazuo Ohno’s Admiring La Argentina

WithMark Franko

It is often the case in modernist aesthetic theory that dancing qualifies as high art if and when movement appears to render the instant of its occurrence as pure and self-defining. In his tribute to the celebrated Spanish flamenco dancer Antonia Merce´ (1890-1936), the poet Paul Vale´ry wrote, “[T]his person who is dancing encloses herself as it were in a time she engenders, a time consisting entirely of immediate energy, of nothing that can last.”1

For Vale´ry, La Argentina (Antonia Merce´’s stage name) masters time, but also strangely obliterates it: her movements exude a present of their own making within which they disappear as into a void. Dance engenders an experience for which a gaze thrown back to the past has no place.