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Indian Modern Dance has mapped out the space occupied by certain dancers and dance-makers from India with a focus on the specific ways in which the dancing bodies they ushered into the public realm imbibed, reflected, commented on and critiqued the colonial and postcolonial worlds they inhabited. Each of the individuals discussed forces us to rethink the commonly held view, especially in the Euro-American worlds, that ‘authentic’ or ‘pure’ Indian dance art can only be that which is founded either on some ancient Indian dramaturgical treatise such as the Natyashastra or the Abhinaya Darpana, or on some indigenous oral folk tradition untouched by the Empire and the modern world. Kumkum Sangari (1989) suggested more than two decades ago that complicit in the propagation of this idea of a ‘true Indian tradition’ of a performing arts untainted by modernity was the Indian state machinery itself, engaged since India’s Independence in 1947 in promoting a uniquely Indian cultural heritage comprising of ‘timeless’ museum art forms that somehow survived the horror and pestilence of colonialism. Similarly, Rustom Bharucha (1993; 1998) and Urmimala Sarkar Munsi (2010) have also alerted us to the collusive role of the Indian nation-state in reifying the binaries of traditional heritage and modern innovation.1
KeywordsDance Performance Cultural Text Dance Form Colonial Encounter Modern Dance
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