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Aadya Kaktikar

Bio: Aadya Kaktikar is an academic researcher from Shiv Nadar University. The author has contributed to research in topics: Dance & Dance education. The author has an hindex of 1, co-authored 2 publications receiving 5 citations.

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TL;DR: In this paper, a pedagogical experiment with teaching the art of abhinaya in the university classroom is described, where students create multiple layers of meaning, moving from the obvious depictions to abstract forms; a process that forms the bedrock of traditional Indian dance technique.
Abstract: The questions that this paper poses are placed at the intersection of a Liberal Arts approach to education and the pedagogy of traditional Indian dance forms. These questions are explored through my ongoing pedagogical experiment with teaching the art of abhinaya in the university classroom. This paper charts the journey of exploring what the technique of abhinaya means. How is it generated? Where does an individual find agency and voice within the discipline of a classical Indian dance form? Here abhinaya is generated through a toolbox of methods, which allows students to access their own perceptions and understandings and structure them in ways which can be communicated. Building upon their embodied knowledge, students create multiple layers of meaning, moving from the obvious depictions to abstract forms; a process that forms the bedrock of traditional abhinaya technique. Learning in the class is driven neither by the teacher nor the curriculum, but rather by the student. In its approach, this class cu...

5 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: When the traditional (dance) and the modern (university) intersect within the Liberal Arts, the pedagogical dynamics produced opens possible pathways to approach decolonization as an ongoing praxic process as mentioned in this paper.
Abstract: When the traditional (dance) and the modern (university) intersect within the Liberal Arts, the pedagogical dynamics produced opens possible pathways to approach decolonization as an ongoing praxic...

3 citations


Cited by
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TL;DR: Performing Past: Reinventing the Arts in Modern South India, edited by Indira Viswanathan Peterson and Davesh Soneji, explores the formation of classical traditions in the performing arts of South India as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: Performing Pasts: Reinventing the Arts in Modern South India, edited by Indira Viswanathan Peterson and Davesh Soneji, explores the formation of classical traditions in the performing arts of South India. Through ten articles by leading scholars in the field, the volume describes the shifts involved in what reformers termed the “revival” of traditions: from temples to concert halls; from hereditary, lower-caste performers to upper-caste outsiders; from guru-shishya relationships to formal curricula; and from ritual practice to aesthetic experiences. Throughout, the various authors explore classicization as changing theory and practice simultaneously— not only ideas about tradition, but also what notes musicians included within a given raga (a melodic framework for improvisation in classical Indian music). This book builds on a spate of recent work exploring the consolidation of Indian classical music (Janaki Bakhle’s Two Men and Music: Nationalism and the Making of an Indian Classical Tradition [Oxford University Press, 2005], Lakshmi Subramanian’s From the Tanjore Court to the Madras Music Academy: A Social History of Music in South India [Oxford University Press, 2006], and Amanda Weidman’s Singing the Classical, Voicing the Modern: The Postcolonial Politics of Music in South India [Duke University Press, 2006]) and dance (Janet O’Shea’s At Home in the World: Bharata Natyam on the Global Stage [Wesleyan University Press, 2007]), and several of those studies’ authors have contributed articles to this collection. As in the wider literature, this collection both traces the mechanics of classicization and offers some explanations for why the shift occurred. However, the book also adds to those general themes in several ways. First, it approaches music and dance together, arguing they are so intertwined in South India that they must be viewed side by side. Second, it argues for new understandings of both agency and hegemony in classicization projects. In terms of agency, authors identify a broader set of actors as central to the process; instead of just Brahmin, middle-class reformers, the articles draw attention to the role of former devadasis (women who performed ritual temple dances) in creating, reforming, and preserving dance culture, and that of professional musicians in standardizing musical performance and notation. In terms of hegemony, the authors emphasize that Brahminical definitions of tradition never went uncontested but instead always struggled with alternatives that challenged elitism in artistic practices or claims to origins. Third, the book sets out to locate performing arts in South India outside of the usual stories of either the interplay of local and global forces or the emergence of national culture. Classical dance and music emerged in response to Western standards of notation, respectable sexuality, and cultural achievement, as Indian elites sought to claim their own ancient traditions in response to colonial criticism; as the authors point out, however, classical forms also developed in response to local popular dance or music, as those same elites sought to differentiate themselves from the lower classes. At the same time, classicization of the arts was not purely a national story but framed “the regional and the national in layered overlapping configurations” (25). Nation and region complemented each other for men such as V. Raghavan of the Madras Music Academy, who located Bharatanatyam dance simultaneously in pan-Indian and regional identities, to the glory of each. For others such as Kothamangalam Subbu, however, nation and region conflicted; Subbu’s 1956–57 novel Tillana Mohanambal celebrated a distinctly Tamil regional dance and music superior to that offered by homogenized nationalism. Together, the collection problematizes relations between nation and region, even as it discusses multiple ways of imagining each. As O’Shea argues, classical traditions were “not simply refigured in the interest of nationalism” but instead “emerged as a platform where competing versions of identity could be staged” (172). Although there is some unevenness in the contributions, this is a very useful compilation of articles by top scholars studying the performing arts in South India. There are, however, some issues the articles raise collectively but do not fully address. One is the regional nature of this story. The authors locate the story of classicization largely in the Tanjore court in the nineteenth century and colonial city of Madras in the twentieth. Interestingly, the only articles that deal with South India as a wider region are the two by Soneji and Zoe C. Sherinian, which address resistance to normative traditions. How much, in the end, is this a truly regional story, as opposed to one in which reformers in Madras made aspirational claims to regionality as they tried to make their vision universal? Another issue that is raised provocatively in several chapters is the spiritual nature of the modern performing arts. Classicization is usually described by performers, admirers, and scholars alike as involving a loss of spirituality as dance and music moved out of temples and into secular concert halls. And yet, as various authors note, that transition did not really secularize music or dance. Instead, both arts continued to invoke spirituality as a source of authenticity by identifying tradition with ancient Hindu texts or devotionalism, or by rendering concert halls templelike for the space of a performance. Indeed, for prominent Bharatanatyam reformer Rukmini Devi, art was essentially spiritual: “Religion is Divinity expressed inwardly. Art is Divinity expressed outwardly” (144). Taking the spiritual associations of modern performing arts seriously, how do these stories of the reinvention of music and dance speak not just to a history of the arts, but also more broadly to the reinvention of religion itself from external rituals to interior experience? How, in other words, do the arts shape or reveal the experience of Indian modernity? While not all the essays tackle these questions directly, together they suggest promising new lines of scholarship that investigate the role of the arts in forging modern ideas of self, identity, and community.

23 citations