Danza de las Tijeras, Spectacular Indigeneity, and the New Peru
His current book project in development uses the danza de las tijeras (scissors dance) an acrobatic ritual dance from one of the most marginalized regions of the Peruvian Andes, as a case-study to investigate the cultural agency of virtuosic indigenous performers from Latin America on the global stage. The scissors dance is a hybrid performance genre traditionally performed in local festivities, enacting a mysterious stock character engaged in a diabolic pact. The dancers are male specialists who perform in intense competitions of complex dance steps, acrobatics, and demonstrations of endurance and the ability to withstand pain. Once repudiated by colonial elites because it represented the survival of indigenous rituals, the scissors dance has become one of the most visible emblems of Andean identity on national and transnational stages. Dr. Bush considers the staging of the scissors dance as a significant cultural phenomenon that contributes to changing articulations of Andean subjectivity, not as simply - as anthropological studies suggest- a degradation of an authentic ritual. He argues that contemporary scissors dancers engage in strategic auto-exoticism, performing the role of the hyperreal Indian on transnational stages in order to acquire the social capital of global artists and cultural entrepreneurs, thus re-positioning the opposition between indigeneity and modernity within Latin American public discourse. While neoliberal multiculturalism limits their potential force, performing spectacular indigeneity has enabled the performers to become problematic and productive models for the development of modern Andean subjectivities and cultural agents in the remaking of Peruvian identity in a rapidly globalizing world.
Jason Bush is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in "Dance in/and the Humanities" at Stanford University. His research and teaching interests include Latin American theatre and dance, transnational indigenous performance, performance ethnography, and global dance studies. Before coming to Stanford, he received a Ph.D. in Theatre Studies from The Ohio State University in 2011, an MA in Theater Arts from California State University, Northridge in 2004, and a BA in Theater from University of California, Los Angeles in 2001. He received Ohio State's competitive Presidential Fellowship, as well as numerous other research grants to complete his dissertation research on the global circulation of the Peruvian scissors dance as an icon of Andean indigeneity. His articles have appeared in Suzan-Lori Parks: A Casebook, and The Journal of American Drama and Theatre. His current book project Spectacular Indigeneity: The Peruvian Scissors Dance on the Global Stage argues that performing spectacular indigeneity on transnational stages enables scissors dance performers to become cultural agents in the fashioning of modern indigenous identities and remaking of Peruvian identity within the circumscribed limits of neoliberal multiculturalism.