A robust caste discourse in Indian diaspora's classical dance practices is vital — and overdue
The Black Lives Matter movement must spark a reckoning within the diaspora Indian classical dance world with its own race and caste issues
As the arts grapple with fallout of coronavirus crisis, can a more inclusive way be found through the pandemic?
Existing outside screens and in physical bodies literally constitutes the “flesh and bones” of the performing art sector, or so it seemed until it came under the crushing weight of COVID-19 crisis. The crisis has forced the intensely embodied field into the disembodied realm of Zoom screens.
To fill vital gaps in dance education, three educators address how a more critical practice could be achieved
The designers of Performance Practice (Dance), a Master's programme at the Ambedkar University, Delhi, have decided that it must neither be heavy on text or theory, nor should it focus on one specific form. It also encourages students to become the agents of their own learning, unlike more traditional one-on-one relationships with teachers, which tend to seep into the students' personal lives
With its emphasis on training rather than education, ‘learning’ in classical dance requires an urgent and critical rethink
Learning in classical dance is conceptualised more as training than an education. A student is taught to effectively embody an aesthetic through physical training, with little reflection on what it means to do so historically, socially or politically.
Davesh Soneji on Indian classical dance, working with hereditary artists: 'We need a new, radical epistemology and political grammar'
Withstanding the test of time, Davesh Soneji's book Unfinished Gestures has emerged as a potential litmus test, for academicians and classical dancers alike, to reflect on their response, towards the hereditary community of artists.
At a time of nationwide protests, India's classical artists are missing a culture of dissent, and this needs fixing
An absent culture of dissent is not a new feature in classical dance, given that the relationship of classical dancers with the society is heavily mediated by the state’s cultural machinery. As societies from across the world are leaning on their youth for leading the fight for a better tomorrow, there might be no better moment than now for the classical dances to reflect on what an education in classical dance is truly meant to serve.
Classical dance and appropriation: How to think about a field whose foundations rest on cultural violence
Given that classical dance entered the upper caste communities through the process of appropriation (first by denying the hereditary dancers their right to perform, then adopting the same dance tradition while continuing to deny them the right to perform) it might seem rather obvious that the present day classical dancers should be aware and respond to this past that they continue to benefit from. The reality however couldn’t be further away from this.
From temples to royal courts, and the proscenium stage: A social history of Indian performance spaces
A proscenium stage born in the West posits a distance between audience and performer to offer a visual experience. Yet, why is it that classical dance, which vehemently claims its origins in a text on Indian aesthetics, most widely performed on a proscenium stage? The history of performance spaces in India is a deeply sociological one.
How the Indian classical dance industry created a troubling culture of dependency on marriage
The unique relationship of the classical dance industry with marriage was born in mid-20th century India, when the Devadasi system was abolished and dance was appropriated into the upper caste.
On Indian media's role in depoliticising discourse around classical dance, and the need for change
Media, especially print media has played a historically significant role in shaping the public discourse on classical dance in pre-independent as well as post-independent India.