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Vortrag und Tanzaufführung von Giridhar Raghunathan

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Negotiating gender in the evolution of Bharatanatyam Montag, 18.11.2019; Beginn: 18.15 Uhr im Hörsaal X, Hauptgebäude der Universität Bonn (Am Hof 1, 53113 Bonn)

GiridharRaghunathan, PhD candidate, Department of Dance, University of Roehampton, London, UK

Bharatanatyam is a prominent south Indian dance form practiced and performed worldwide. It involves gesticulation with dance, music and rhythm through the highly developed art of expression called abhinaya.

For centuries, Bharatanatyam was primarily performed by a community of women called Devadasi (servants of God). In the 20thcentury CE, the dance underwent a phase coded as “revival”, bringing-forth several changes. The dance was re-shaped according to societal views on gender, culture, modesty and spirituality. Women and also men from outside the Devadasi community were taught Bharatanatyam. Re-imagining gender under upper-caste ideologies projected the female dancer as a pious, middle-class family woman and the male dancer as a hyper-masculine, spiritual and patriotic icon. Additionally, vigorous dance pieces like the Siva Tandavam (Dance of Hindu God Siva) were created for the male dancer prompting a bifurcation within the gender-inclusive dance style.

This talk focusses on how gender has been re-imagined twice in Bharatanatyam- a) once during its seizure from the devadasi women of lower social status by the upper-class elite reformists and women and then b) during the passage from the 20th century newly acquainted Indian male dancer to the modern day muscle-flaunting male dancer who tirelessly chases his macho image.