Ranjini (MCR): ‘The aesthetic as a politico-cultural choice: What does Indian classical dance perform?’
Borrowing from the Indian poet AK Ramanujan, who asks in an essay, if there is an Indian way of thinking, this talk asks in much the same way:
Is there an Indian way of dancing? (Does it exist?)
Is there an Indian way of dancing? (Is it singular?)
Is there an Indian way of dancing?(Is there a danger of essentializing?)
What were the aesthetic considerations put forth by both reformists, and later, state cultural organizations to create bureaucratic distinctions marked out through categories of dance such as classical, folk, and tribal?
What do these aesthetic choices which are visible and marked onto the body of the dancer convey about how Indian classical dances positioned itself as the repository of a national Hindu culture on which Indian national identity was constructed?
Are dance forms categorized as folk, tribal or ritual included in the national imaginary the same way as Indian classical dance forms have been?
How could bringing oft-ignored performance practices from the realm of ‘folk’ or ‘tribal’ into mainstream discourse around the performing arts trouble the distinctions of what is counted as a pan-Indian aesthetic, and why is it important at this moment in time?
This talk attempts to address how the aesthetics involved in Indian classical dance are not arbitrary, but are politico-cultural choices, which ‘perform’ ideas beyond the dance itself.
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