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Volume 68 Number 4, June-September 2017

Volume 68 Number 4

Contemporary Dance in India
Edited by: Astad Deboo and Ketu H. Katrak

Introduction
Astad Deboo and Ketu H. Katrak

An Overview of Contemporary Dance in India
Leela Venkataraman

Significant Issues for Contemporary Dancers in India
Ranjana Dave

Categorizing Dance: A Classic Case of Contemporary Confusion
Vikram Iyengar

Some Faces of Contemporary Dance in India
Compiled by Astad Deboo and Ketu H. Katrak

Astad Deboo: Pilgrim, Pathfinder and Protagonist
Ramaa Bharadvaj

Neo Dance in India: A Personal Prism
Anita Ratnam

Pedagogy, Performances, Festivals
    “Contemporary” as a Lens of Criticality
    Mandeep Raikhy

    Natya & STEM Dance Kampni, Bangalore
    Madhu Nataraj

    Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Bangalore
    Rowshini Karunanithi

    Prakriti Foundation, Chennai
    Ranvir Shah

    Curating Dance: NCPA, Mumbai
    Arundhathi Subramaniam

    An Online Resource: narthaki.com
    Lalitha Venkat

Looking Ahead
    Padmini Chettur, Chennai
    Preethi Athreya, Chennai
    In conversation with Rakesh Khanna

    Surjit Nongmeikapam, Imphal
    Profiled by James Khangenbam

    Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy, Bangalore

Conclusion
Astad Deboo and Ketu H. Katrak

Book Review
Afloat a Lotus LeafKapila Vatsyayan: A Cognitive Biography by Jyoti Sabharwal
Sunil Kothari

Thematic Ad-Portfolio: About a Dream

Thematic Ad-Portfolio: About a Dream
Andrade, Carol
Vol. 68 No. 4, June-September 2017, pp. 2-9

The inside write-up highlights the Astad Deboo Dance Foundation’s work with hearing-impaired children, street children and Manipuri drum-dancers. The main portfolio pages showcase the interesting collaborations that happened through Intersect, an event organized by the Gati Dance Forum and Devi Art Foundation for the Ignite Festival, New Delhi, 2016.

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Editorial Note
Vol. 68 No. 4, June-September 2017, p. 12

This issue traces the story of contemporary dance in India from its beginnings in the path-breaking work of Madam Menaka, Uday Shankar and later Chandralekha in the mid-1980s, to the growing number of dynamic performers and choreographers of present times, who are as committed to pedagogy as they are to pushing the boundaries of contemporary dance. The contributors use their personal experiences and practices to analyse the contentious relationship between contemporary and classical forms, and ask pertinent questions about the extent to which reinvention is possible.

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Introduction
Deboo, Astad and Katrak, Ketu H.
Vol. 68 No. 4, June-September 2017, pp. 14-17

Highlighting the key questions that will be taken up in this magazine, this piece summarizes the many factors that have come to define contemporary dance in India. These include movements, costuming, soundscapes, institutions of training, publications and awards. Neither understood purely as a period or a style, contemporary dance remains multifarious. Thereby it enjoys the freedom of being flexible in form but also suffers the fate of becoming too broad and confusing a category.

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An Overview of Contemporary Dance in India
Venkataraman, Leela
Vol. 68 No. 4, June-September 2017, pp. 18-27

This essay traces the history of contemporary dance in India, looking at different generations of innovators working in the field. The roots go back to the legacies of Rukmini Devi Arundale, Madam Menaka, Uday Shankar, Manjusri Chaki Sircar, Mrinalini Sarabhai and Chandralekha. These histories are then connected with the dance of mid-generation practitioners such as Geeta Chandran, Astad Deboo and Navtej Johar as well as more recent work happening in the field with the likes of Attakkalari, Gati and Nrityarutya. In the developments discussed, we find profiles of dancers who are not just concerned about redesigning traditional forms but who also wish to move away from tradition and engage directly with more immediate issues and trends.

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Significant Issues for Contemporary Dancers in India
Dave, Ranjana
Vol. 68 No. 4, June-September 2017, pp. 28-33
What does it mean to be a contemporary dancer in India? Contemporary dancers are simultaneously global and stateless; they are bound, by etymological premise, to react to the present, and are unable or unwilling to be identified by an affinity to codified canons and practices. In documenting key issues for contemporary dancers in India through conversations with practitioners, this article looks at the problems that plague training, practice and financial sustainance of contemporary dance in India.
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Categorizing Dance: A Classic Case of Contemporary Confusion
Iyengar, Vikram
Vol. 68 No. 4, June-September 2017, pp. 34-43
What are the parameters by which one can define the contemporary dance space, rather than the contemporary dance form? How does this approach to definition differ markedly from how one would go about defining classical dance? Can this illuminate prevailing confusions and tensions about the term in any way? What does classical dance have to gain by an engagement with how contemporary dance views the moving body, physical space and accompanying ideologies, values and political positions? This piece draws on a series of personal experiences and questions encountered by the writer, a dancer in the classical mode, but equally interested and involved in contemporary dance. Viewing through both lens, Vikram Iyengar discusses the ways in which one may choose to present and perceive the trained body in transition, and the challenge of letting go of physical knowledge to foreground a vulnerable body capable of becoming both form and content.
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Some Faces of Contemporary Dance in India
Deboo, Astad and Katrak, Ketu H.
Vol. 68 No. 4, June-September 2017, pp. 44-51

This essay brings together short profiles of a wide range of older and younger artists/groups who have shaped the field of contemporary dance in India. These include Mrinalini and Mallika Sarabhai, Chandralekha, Aditi Mangaldas, Hrishikesh Pawar, Tanusree Shankar, Sudarshan Chakravorty, Santosh Nair, Sanjukta Wagh, Sanjukta Sinha, Mayuri and Madhuri Upadhya, Sangeeta Sharma, Bharat Sharma and Daksha Sheth.

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Astad Deboo: Pilgrim, Pathfinder, Protagonist
Bharadvaj, Ramaa
Vol. 68 No. 4, June-September 2017, pp. 52-61

This interview with Astad Deboo provides glimpses into the many experiences and influences that have moulded the career of this prolific dancer. From the characters he met during his youthful days spent hitchhiking across US, Europe, Asia to the traditional gurus and contemporary dancers he learnt from and collaborated with later in his life and finally the children with special needs and dancer-drummers of Manipur he now mentors—Astad embraces all and continues to draw inspiration from each. Besides these stories, the interview also brings to light the signature sartorial styles that have added to the dancer’s striking dance works and his thoughts on whether or not he wants to leave behind a legacy.

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Neo Dance in India: A Personal Prism
Ratnam, Anita
Vol. 68 No. 4, June-September 2017, pp. 62-67

In this reflective piece, the author takes readers through her personal journey of working in the field of contemporary dance. This journey has involved various challenges and successes—moving from a traditional background in Bharatanatyam to embracing other Indian dance vocabularies; returning to dance after more than a decade of life abroad; setting up of her new dance organization and online portal to showcase her experiments in dance. Through her career, Anita Ratnam has served as an international producer, ideator, choreographer, festival director, costume and sound designer, writer, speaker and passionate dance advocate. Her different roles have provided her with insights as to what the audience, presenter and critic look for in dance from India.

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Pedagogy, Performances, Festivals
Raikhy, Mandeep, et al
Vol. 68 No. 4, June-September 2017, pp. 68-81

This section brings together seven important voices associated with the teaching, practice and promotion of contemporary dance in India. These include Mandeep Raikhy of Gati Dance Forum, New Delhi and Madhu Nataraj of Natya & STEM Dance Kampni, Bangalore who work as dancers, choreographers, teachers and institution heads. There is also Rowshini Karunanithi from Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Bangalore; Ranvir Shah of the Prakriti Dance Foundation, Chennai; and Arundhathi Subramaniam, a former member of the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai who share their experiences of organizing and marketing dance courses, festivals and events. Finally Lalitha Venkat of narthaki.com highlights the initiatives and impact of their online portal that helps artists keep up with the changing times and reach out to larger groups of digital audiences.

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Looking Ahead
Chettur, Padmini, et al
Vol. 68 No. 4, June-September 2017, pp. 82-89

This section highlights the work of young, upcoming choreographer-dancers from the world of contemporary dance in India. These include Padmini Chettur, Preethi Athreya, Surjit Nongmeikapam and Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy.

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Conclusion
Deboo, Astad and Katrak, Ketu H.
Vol. 68 No. 4, June-September 2017, pp. 90-91

In this concluding piece, the guest editors draw attention to the main challenges that confront contemporary dance in India today. These include the lack of proper funding from government and private organizations, the absence of enough serious platforms to showcase the latest work in the field, the poor training received at most schools and the easy draw of Bollywood with its glamour and snobbery. Having said that, they also acknowledge inroads being made to improve this situation by institutes such as Max Mueller Bhavan, Gati, Attakkalari, Ambedkar and Ashoka University.

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Book Review
Vol. 68 No. 4, June-September 2017, pp. 92-94

Afloat a Lotus Leaf: Kapila Vatsyayan, A Cognitive Biography, by Jyoti Sabharwal, reviewed by Sunil Kothari.

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