Reimagining Indian Dance: Moving Forward

Paul Charbonneou solo in Holy Cow(s)!, choreographed by Sean Curran and Hari Krishnan, photo by Miles Brokenshire; Parul Shah, Enduring Silence, photo by Kasia Idzkowska; Kuldeep Singh, photo by Pablo Lecroisey Lara.

Paul Charbonneou solo in Holy Cow(s)!, choreographed by Sean Curran and Hari Krishnan, photo by Miles Brokenshire; Parul Shah, Enduring Silence, photo by Kasia Idzkowska; Kuldeep Singh, photo by Pablo Lecroisey Lara. 

Beginning in the 1930’s, Indian dancers used their deep affinity for traditional forms as a springboard to push the boundaries of Indian dance, creating new forms to embrace emerging ideas of a new nation at the time of Partition. The spirit of innovation—even subversion—within tradition remains alive today, as a vital diaspora Indian dance community actively explores new creative territory. Dancers/choreographers Hari Krishnan, Parul Shah and Kuldeep Singh present excerpts from recent works that build on the traditional dance forms of Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Kathak.

The performance will be followed by a panel discussion.

Curated with Rajika Puri.

About the Artists:

Dr. Hari Krishnan is Associate Professor of Dance in the Department of Dance at Wesleyan University (Connecticut). His research areas include queer identities in global dance performance, contemporary dance from global perspectives, colonialism, post-colonialism and Indian dance, Bharatanatyam in Tamil cinema and the history of devadasi-courtesan dance traditions in South India. He currently co-editing a new volume entitled Dance and the Early South Indian Cinema (Oxford University Press), and preparing a monograph entitled Celluloid Classicism: Early Tamil Cinema and the Making of Modern Bharatanatyam (forthcoming, Wesleyan University Press). Dr. Krishnan is also the artistic director of Toronto-based dance company, inDANCE and as an award winning dance-maker, is commissioned internationally for his bold and transgressive contemporary dance choreography.

Parul Shah, artistic director of the Parul Shah Dance Company is an internationally acclaimed Kathak and contemporary dancer and choreographer whose work is expanding the classical medium beyond cultural boundaries. With a dedication to excellence, Shah preserves the form’s aesthetic integrity while exploring contemporary stories and questions around belonging, identity, and empathy. Behind Parul’s work is decades of rigorous Kathak training under the world-renowned guru and choreographer, Padmabhushan Kumudini Lakhia. Parul’s repertoire spans both classical and contemporary dance vocabularies and her influences include her own experiences and observations as much as her training. 

She is especially driven to shining a light on marginalized stories, and is committed to outreach and education. Parul’s New York studio is home to both the Parul Shah Dance Company and her training facility. With a Masters degree in dance & dance education from Columbia University, Teachers College, Parul has been teaching Kathak for over 15 years. Shah has presented her work around the world and at home to critical acclaim, including City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival, NYC; the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.; Asia Society, NYC; Jacobs Pillow, Inside/ Out series, Massachusetts; World Music Institute, NYC; Japan Forum Foundation, Tokyo; and Suvarna Parva, Ahmedabad, India.

Kuldeep Singh is a multi-disciplinary artist with a compound artistic practice that comprises a system of non-linear narratives in visual art and multi-media performance—through inventing situations in theatrical installations and hybrid myths surveying hiatuses in post-colonial histories. Through his intensive, decade long training in the Indian classical dance form of Odissi—with critically acclaimed dancer Madhavi Mudgal, in New Delhi—he deconstructs components in movement and acting, sound/percussive mnemonics and spatial arrangements - all as re-arranged fragments in layers, engaging in body politics and social anthropology. The content transpires from eclectic stories across timelines, classic Sanskrit texts, and is layered to contemporary human situations - reemphasizing contemporary relevance. For the past six years, he has been in training in the percussion instrument, Odissi Pakhawaj to further understand Odissi’s lyrical expression.

Kuldeep is the recipient of prestigious residencies, including: the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME (2014); Yaddo, NY (2015); and Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, NE (2016). He was recently the artist in residence at Residency Unlimited, Brooklyn (2018) and at HH Art Spaces, Goa (2018) - on an award from Inlaks Foundation, Mumbai. He was recently awarded a ‘New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship’ (2018), in inter-disciplinary arts category. Kuldeep holds the National Freedom of Expression Award, Mumbai (2009, Infinity Films). His recent performances include: the Kolkata International Performance Festival (2014), Yaddo (2015), and Rapid Pulse International Performance Festival in Chicago (2016) and La Mama Theater (2016). 

Part of the Season of India, a series of programs held in conjunction with the exhibition, The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India, on view at Asia Society Museum from September 14, 2018 to January 20, 2019. 

Event Details

Sat 27 Oct 2018
7 - 9 p.m.

Asia Society
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021

Buy Tickets
$20 Members; $22 Students/Seniors; $25 Nonmembers
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