UNDERSTANDING THE BODY DISCOURSE IN THE CONTEXT OF DANCE IN INDIA
On November 15, 2023, the Macao Scientific and Cultural Center will host a lecture by Urmimala Sarkar Munsi, Professor of Critical Dance Studies and current Dean of the School of Arts and Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
Before the lecture, which will start at 6.30pm, there will be time for a coffee meeting.
15-11-2023, 18h00 | Auditório do Centro Científico e Cultural de Macau | Rua da Junqueira, 30 – Lisboa
Abstract of the talk:
In India, most dancing bodies register two kinds of training. The first is through the socialization processes, which start at birth and consolidate the frames of reference for the embodied expressions, thoughts, and relationship that develops between individuals and their bodies. This process is both individual and community-specific and is structured through common everyday experiences as well as individual/family manifestations. The second training is very often a choice, and the knowledge involved is specialized and specific, attached to the form and not to a particular way of life. Its end-use could be a livelihood option or an art practice that the dancer is able to pursue as a hobby. Dance as a specialized art requires the dancers to acquire special skills received through specialized training processes. In contrast, many members of indigenous communities may be untrained but are regular participants in community or family celebrations as their knowledge and experience in dancing come from specific socializational learning particular to the socio-cultural background they come from. All dancing bodies are gendered, socialized, caste/class/creed-controlled bodies – from different geographical locations of India, that are very dissimilar in their cultural/embodied practices.
Even while dancing has historically been known to be a popular embodied practice that is part of the ritual celebrations, social rites of passage, and community gatherings in India, there is, however, a tangible sense of stigmatization that is simultaneously attached to the dancing body as well as the dancer. As a result, dance as an embodied act is the focus of a rapidly growing discourse in Indian scholarship, taking in situ experiences of embodiment into the specialized realms of multiple disciplines such as history, philosophy, anthropology, aesthetics, and cultural studies. The complexities are exciting, as dancing bodies in their individual and ensemble forms continue to demand attention, with the prehistoric evidence of dance going back more than 2500 years. There is a rising consciousness about creating an evolving methodology that is multidisciplinary as well as intersectional. In this talk, I propose to try and put together different references to the dancing body that have helped shape the dance discourse in the current times.
Urmimala Sarkar | Professor of Critical Dance Studies and the current Dean of the School of Arts and Aesthetics, at Jawaharlal Nehru University, with research interest in Critical Dance Studies, Therapeutic use of movements in creating survival strategies against gendered violence, Dance and care, and Visual Anthropology. She is a Social Anthropologist and a dancer/choreographer, trained in Kathakali, Manipuri, and Creative Dance at the Uday Shankar India Culture Centre, Kolkata. Her recent books are Uday Shankar and his Transcultural Experimentations: Dancing Modernity (Palgrave, 2022) and Alice Boner Across Arts and Geographies (Rietberg Museum, 2021). She has co-edited the special issue on The Dancing Body, of the Routledge Journal of South Asian History and Culture (2023). Her book Mapping Critical Dance Studies in India (January 2024), is being published by Springer.
Sarkar is the current President of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific.