Shanti Bardhan and Dance as Protest
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By 1944, Uday Shankar’s Almora Centre had closed down, triggering a splintering of ways amongst Shankar and his dance associates. However, some of Shankar’s company members and students continued to work as independent dance-makers and one of this new generation of choreographers was Shanti Bardhan (1916–54). Bardhan’s contribution to modern dance in India through the ‘dance ballets’ that he created in the 1940s and 1950s is only sporadically acknowledged in books and articles (Bardhan 1992; Vatsyayan 2003). His active involvement with the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) is unacknowledged in the lively scholarship that exists on IPTA’s contribution to modern Indian drama (Bharucha 1983, 1993, 1998; Bhattacharya 1983; Bhatia 2004; Dalmia 2006). IPTA’s dance drama productions have featured rarely, if ever at all, in these studies and have also escaped the attention of scholars writing on Indian dance in the past five decades. This silence is due in part to Bardhan’s untimely death at the age of thirty-eight, to the lack of available resources and documentation of his choreographic oeuvre and partly perhaps to the discomfort that many left-oriented Indian scholars may have felt in writing about a dancer who switched political allegiances during his brief but eventful career.
KeywordsCommunist Party Feminist Politics Dance Ballet Congress Party Photo Courtesy
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