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date: 26 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Performing arts festivals featuring artists representing distinct world dance traditions have proliferated in American cities since the 1980s. Often arranged in a potpourri format, these performances demonstrate a city’s multicultural make-up and proclaim dance to show unity between diverse populations. However, what happens when these dances each with distinct production and performance standards get placed with other dances onto a stage dominated by Western theatrical aesthetics? How do culturally specific production values become skewed and how do power relations play out when people outside the cultures represented produce the performances? Using one of America’s more prominent festivals, The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival as a case study, this chapter explores issues around the politics of representation and highlights some misconceptions about diversity that are presumed in these types of multicultural spectacles. The chapter also considers possible methods to create more culturally appropriate world dance events.

Keywords: San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, folk dance, staged dance, ethnic dance, national and transnational dance, multiculturalism, diaspora, ethno-aesthetics, spectacle

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