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Practice, Performance and the Performer : Analyzing the role of ‘Preparation’ in Kathak Dance

Shruti Ghosh, Macquarie University, Sydney

 Yatohastostatodrishtiryato, Drishtitatomana

Yatomanatatobhava, Yatobhavatato rasa

Tatradwabhnayaseba, Pradhaanmitikathyake

(Where the hand goes  the eyes follow, where the eyes go the mind follows, where the mind goes there is feeling, where there is feeling there is emotion)

 Introduction

 This is one of those popular slokas from Natya Sastra [ii] that is oft repeated by the teachers, students and practitioners of Indian classical dance. It is one of those quintessential imperatives that are drilled into the minds of the performers in course of their training. Interrogating the instant reception and popularity of the sloka, I notice its efficacy perhaps lies in its prescriptive tone through which it spells out certain ‘know how s’ about Nritya or acting in dance and indicates how to prepare oneself for acting. Our understanding of the nuances of the sloka would be limited if we consider only the component of acting. I shall therefore also include in my discussion, the other aspect i.e. Nritta, which refers to the abstract dance movements.  How do I prepare myself as a Kathak dancer is the question I have often asked. What do I prepare and for whom? In an attempt to address these questions, this paper analyses the role of ‘preparation’ in a dance practice. There are two crucial components which form part of preparation – ‘dancer’s individual preparation’ and ‘audience reception’. I note further that, an interrogation of the concept of ‘preparation’ also yields varying understanding of ‘Performance’.

Modern Rendition of Ancient Arts: Negotiating Values in Traditional Odissi Dance

Shreelina Ghosh, Dakota State University

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Abstract

Recent innovations in remediating performances allow dancers to perform, collaborate, teach, learn and forge new inter-body relationships that substitute the traditional Guru-Shishya or master-disciple relationship. The divide between technologized and traditional practices in dance creates a productive space that can help scholars understand how digital and networked technologies are transforming embodied cultural memory. Tradition-technology encounters and formations of a deviant discourse challenge the dominant (traditional) norms of embodied cultural memory. My qualitative study of the field reveals that innovation has been encouraged by the most members of the dance community. However, if mediated dance compromises values associated with the dance, like its sacredness, the importance of the body, and the importance of the Guru, it can be potentially subversive to the traditional practice. The main points of conflict between traditional dance and technologically mediated practices indicate moments of compromise in the traditional values.

The Therapeutic Value of Indian Classical, Folk and Innovative Dance Forms

Arpita Chatterjee, Barasat College, West Bengal State University, India

Dance provides an active, non-competitive form of exercise that has potential positive effects for physical health as well as mental and emotional wellbeing. Dance therapy is based on the idea that body and mind are co-relational. The therapeutic approaches with various forms of Indian dances are a new entrant to dance literature. Ayurveda held dance as a power of healing (therapy) and inner awareness (psychology). Indian philosophy also supports the facts of Sangeet (song, dance and music) for benefit of human health physically as well as mentally. The powerful dance form of Bhangra (Punjab), Karagam (Tamilnadu), Chou, Rayabese, Dhali (West Bengal) gives good health and strength. The fast footwork of Kathak dance helps to release anger and tension. Manipuri dancers make rounded movements and avoid any jerks, sharp edges or straight lines. It gives them undulating and soft appearance, proper body control and peace of mind. All these body movements, body balancing, expression, muscle movement, muscle constriction and relaxation have a strong effect on therapeutic movements. In India today the dance therapists are conscious about this matter and in therapeutic sessions they actually improvise different dance movements according to the need.

Signifying The Self: Intersections of Class, Caste and Gender in Rabindranath Tagore’s Dance Drama Chandalika (1938)

Sutapa Chaudhuri, Dr. Kanailal Bhattacharyya College, Howrah, India

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Abstract

Much has been said about the way Tagore views his women in his poems, essays, novels and drama. Yet it is the dance dramas of Tagore, a genre quite unique in his time and milieu, which portray the radical nature of Tagore’s conception of women and the maturation of their selfhood. The dance dramas illustrate Tagore’s bold and perceptive experimentation with various literary forms and techniques and the radical nature of his ideological orientation. Among the dance dramas of Tagore, Chandalika has a special place as it foregrounds the theme of female desire in an untouchable girl, a tabooed subject in his times, indeed even now in Bengali writings. This paper tries to show how Tagore uses the nuances of the dance form to showcase the intersections of caste, class and gender as well as the evolution of selfhood in Prakriti, the Chandal girl.

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