Art Happens

The Return of La Argentina

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© Orpheas Emirzas

Antonia Mercé aka La Argentina was possibly the most famous Spanish dancer of the 20th century. 40 years after her death, the founders of the Japanese Butoh (“dance of darkness”) Kazuo Ohno and Tatsumi Hijikata honoured her in the 70s with the piece Admiring La Argentina. Trajal Harrell’s solo The Return of La Argentina is an homage: to La Argentina, to Ohno and Hijikata, and to the networks of history that lie beneath the present time.

Drawing upon memory and invention, the performance invites the audience into a fictional archiving of Admiring La Argentina. In The Return of La Argentina, Harrell fictitiously remembers, stores, accounts for, forgets, registers, memorializes, ritualizes, and gives home to Ohno’s work.

It is all at once a departure for Harrell – bringing voguing theory and the archive together with butoh’s life among ghosts. As much for those with no prior knowledge of Ohno’s original work, the viewer’s presence becomes essential as witness and admirer as they too archive into their memories perhaps a new signature work on the imagination and our accountability for what we keep; what we choose to remember and forget; and what we are powerfully left to invent in the here and now.

Where Harlem voguing is inspired by the movements of models, Admiring La Argentina was inspired by La Argentina. This web of danced relationships brings Harrell’s audience on a journey of remembering, forgetting, memorializing, and ritualizing Admiring La Argentina.


Choreography, performance, costume and sound design: Trajal Harrell
Install manager: Sally Heard
Diffusion: ART HAPPENS

DatePerformanceCity CountryOrganisation/Venue
26.05.2024The Return of La ArgentinaZurich (ch)Schauspielhaus Zürich
24.09.2022The Return of La ArgentinaGennevilliers (fr)T2G - Théâtre de Gennevilliers
15.03.2017The Return of La ArgentinaNew York (us)NYLA New York Live Arts/Participant Inc
27.02.2017The Return of La ArgentinaAbu Dhabi (ae)NYU Abu Dhabi
05.02.2017The Return of La ArgentinaSantiago de Compostela (es)Festival Escenas do Cambio
04.09.2016The Return of La ArgentinaSingapore (sg)Singapore International Festival of Arts
05.08.2016The Return of La ArgentinaVienna (at)ImPulsTanz
03.08.2016The Return of La ArgentinaVienna (at)ImPulsTanz
01.08.2016The Return of La ArgentinaVienna (at)ImPulsTanz