Contrapunto de Zapateo Alterity and Gesture
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- Institutt for musikk 
The Afro-Peruvian revival launched the contrapunto de zapateo to the stage, adding at the end a common choreography. Before the contrapunto consisted of the dancers taking turns dancing one at a time, with a guitar playing in the background, using step dancing and body percussion. During and in between their turns the dancers continuously exchange gestures among themselves and with the audience—sometimes with the gaze, or a smile, others with mockery and ludic gestuality. How can such varied possibility of relations between the dancers, the guitarist and the audience be described? Informed by my knowledge of zapateo as a dancer, and by my fieldwork in July 2016, in this work I carry out a semiotic analysis of a corpus of videos of contrapuntos available online. My theoretical method engages with the sign from a processual perspective, where a process is operationally defined as input–function–output, as is common practice in engineering. On the other hand, Greimas’s ‘generative trajectory’ is combined with principles from his Semiotics of Passions: starting at the level of discourse (composed by actors, actions, space and time), followed by the narrative level (identifying typical narrative structures and modalities), I arrive at the deep level, which accounts for the fundamental states of interaction between actors. Whereas I hypothesized that these would be founded on competition–collaboration; the analysis revealed a fundamental opposition between challenge (which occurs when the dancers take turns) and ‘moving together’ in a common choreography. The intensities and qualities of interaction between all actors are described as arising from a force of projection encountering a force of convergence. Play, ever present along the performance, is approached from Caillois’ distinction between ludus and paidia and Bateson’s semiotic and logic account of play. This work will hopefully demonstrate that semiotics, as an espistemological method, has much in common with engineering in the sense of problem systematization into processes, and that both have a great potential for contributing to the field of dance.