Seminar | Music and Body: Tradition and Transgression
From Transgression to Tradition: Flash Mob Dance, a Case Study
Georgiana Wierre-Gore – Emeritus Professor of Anthropology of Dance and Bodily Practices – Université Clermont-Auvergne, France

It seems evident that the notion of transgression is relative to that of tradition in so far as an action may only be transgressive when there are explicitly or implicitly established rules, norms or codes which define the limits of acceptable conduct.  Without going further into a definition of these, I wish to argue that common sense would identify traditional or conventional practices as the initial yardstick against which transgressive acts are measured. However, in the case of dance as in music, there are a significant number of cases in which the transgressive may be conceived as that which generates a tradition, although at its inception it was itself an innovative transgressive form. I refer here to the South African Gum Boot dance, for example, which, like the Rhodesian Kalela dance documented by Clyde Mitchell (1956), was a dance of resistance performed by miners working and living under gruelling conditions, the former becoming one of the most popular of the nation’s on and off stage genres. In this presentation, I will argue that Flash mob dance, since its ostensible inception in 2003, has shifted from an innovative and transgressive mode of collective performance in public places, in which the body is foregrounded through surprise display, to a popular dance form with recognisable conventions. It has become effectively a glocal tradition.

Recommended reading:
Gore, G. (2010). Flash Mob Dance and the Territorialisation of Urban Movement. Anthropological Notebooks, 16/3. Available on: http://notebooks.drustvo-antropologov.si/Notebooks/article/view/303

Georgiana Wierre-Gore is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology of Dance and Bodily Practices at the University of Clermont Auvergne, France, and a member of the research centre ACTé. She has established and coordinated several Masters programmes in the Anthropology of Dance and was local then coordinating convener of the Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters programme (EMJMD) Choreomundus: International Master in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage founded in collaboration with colleagues at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, the University of Szeged, Hungary, and the University of Roehampton, London. She has undertaken fieldwork in Southern Nigeria and in Europe, her research focusing mainly on dance transmission and the politics of embodiment (ritual and ceremonial dance amongst the Edo; rave; flash mob) as well as on epistemological issues in the anthropology of dance (Anthropologie de la danse: Genèse et construction d’une discipline 2006 (reprinted in 2020 with a new Preface by Gore) and The Anthropology of Dance 2018, both with Andrée Grau). She has supervised and examined numerous PhDs and lectures internationally as well as contributing regularly to conferences worldwide. She acts as an expert for various bodies including the Musée du Quai Branly’s doctoral and post-doctoral research grants, the ANR (French National Agency for Research), the Hcéres (High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education) amongst others. She is a member of the editorial board of the Yearbook for Traditional Music.

Moderated by Sophie Coquelin – PhD student in Human Motricity – Universidade de Lisboa (FMH), Lisbon. Sophie Coquelin holds a degree in Ethnomusicology from the University Paris-X-Nanterre (France, 2004) and a Master in “Ethnologie des Arts Vivants” from the Nice University Sofia-Antipolis (France, 2013). She currently investigates the processes of revitalization of traditional dances in Portugal.  In 2017 she started a PhD in Human Motricity – Dance Specialtiy, at the Faculdade de Motricidade Humana, with a PhD scholarship from the Rectory of the University of Lisbon. She intends to deepen the intertwining between Anthropology and Art, addressing the issue of multimodality in call dance.

November 23, 16h – 18h (Lisbon Time)

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