India and the Translocal Modern Dance Scene, 1890s–1950s
At the end of the nineteenth century and during the first half of the twentieth, lead dancers from different countries became famous and toured internationally. These dancers—and the companies they created—transformed various dance forms into performances fit for the larger world of art music, ballet, and opera circuits. They adapted ballet to the variety-show formats and its audiences. Drawing on shared philosophical ideas—such as those manifest in the works of the Transcendentalists or in the writings of Nietzsche and Wagner—and from movement techniques, such as ballet codes, the Delsarte method, and, later on, Eurythmics (in fashion at the time), these lead dancers created new dance formats, choreographies, and styles, from which many of today’s classical, folk, and ballet schools emerged. In this essay, I look at how Rabindranath Tagore, Isadora Duncan, Anna Pavlova, Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, Uday Shankar, Leila Roy Sokhey and Rumini Devi Arundale contributed to this translocal dance scene. Indian dance and spirituality, as well as famous Indian dancers, were an integral part of what at the time was known as the international modern dance scene. This transnational scene eventually coalesced into several separate schools, including what today is known as classical and modern Indian dance styles.
Dance; Modern Dance; India; America; Translocality
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