Redefining hybridity in contemporary Kathak dance

Katarzyna Skiba


The article aims to examine the extent to which the present day mobility of dance professionals and global, cultural flows hybridize Kathak art and practice in India. It focuses on innovative approaches and cross-cultural productions of selected Indian artists, highlighting the signifi cance of their entanglement in the global networks of dance professionals and cultural markets as key factors of refashioning Kathak tradition. I shall explore the emerging pursuit of these artists toward pluralistic aesthetics, juxtaposing it with the phenomenon of the colonial mimicry (Bhabha 2004). I intend to address the following questions: What motivates the choreographers to use the hybrid language of dance? Is this language a strategy of innovation, consciously and willingly chosen by the artists, or rather the inheritance of colonial past, nowadays unwittingly reproduced through globalization? Does the cultural hybridity facilitates liberation of the dance from Orientalist and colonial discourses? What is its potential to reproduce national identity and to raise intercultural dialogues through the dance? Are these two objectives irreconcilable?
This essay is based on fieldwork conducted primarily in Kolkata in 2015. Among several leading metropolitan centers of Kathak development, that I have researched (New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Bangalore), Kolkata appears to provide an environment particularly susceptible to the influx of concepts,   techniques and practices from other cultures. This is apparent in the stage productions of Padatik, Rhythmosaic Dance Company, and Anurekha Ghosh Company, which will be discussed here as examples illustrating the dynamics of cultural hybridization and contextualized against changing, socio-cultural and economic conditions.

Słowa kluczowe: cultural hybridity, transculturality, Indian dance, Kathak

Appadurai A., Nowoczesność bez granic. Kulturowe wymiary globalizacji[Modernity at Large], transl.Z. Pucek, Universitas, Kraków 2005.

Bhabha H., Miejsca kultury [The Location of Culture], transl. T. Dobrogoszcz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, Kraków 2010.

Chakravorty P., Dancing into Modernity: Multiple Narratives of India’s Kathak Dance, “Dance Research Journal” 2006, no. 38 (1 & 2) (Summer/Winter), pp. 115-136.

Chakravorty P., Bells of Change: Kathak Dance, Women, and Modernity in India, Seagull Books, Calcutta 2008.

Chakravorty P., Gupta N. (eds.), Dance Matters: Performing India, Routledge, New Delhi 2010.

Chatterjee P., The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories, Princeton University Press, Princeton 1993.

Foster S.L. (ed.), Worlding Dance, Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2009.

Hammergren L., The power of classification, in: S.L. Foster (ed.), Worlding Dance, Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2009.

Jeyasingh S., Getting off the Orient Express, in: A. Carter, J. O’Shea (eds.), Routledge Dance Studies Reader, Routledge, Oxon 2010.

Jeyasingh S., Text Context Dance, in: A. Iyer (ed.), Choreography and Dance: South Asian Dance, Harwood Academic Publishing, Amsterdam 1997, pp. 31-34.

Katrak K., Contemporary Indian Dance: New Creative Choreography in India and the Diaspora, Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2011.

Kothari S., Kathak: Indian Classical Dance Art, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi 1989.

Leslie J., McGee M. (eds.), Invented Identities: The Interplay of Gender, Religion and Politics in India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi 2000.

Lopez y Royo A., Classicism, post-classicism and Ranjabati Sircar’s work: re-defining the terms of Indian contemporary dance discourses, “South Asia Research” 2003, no. 23/2, pp. 153-169.

Nandy A., The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism, Oxford University Press, Delhi 1983.

Padatik since 1972, a brochure.

Philips M.S., Both Sides of the Veil: A Comparative Analysis of Kathak ad Flamenco Dance, MA in Dance, University of California, Los Angeles 1991.

Savigliano M.E., Worlding Dance and Dancing Out There in the World, in: S.L. Foster (ed.), Worlding Dance, Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2009.

Schehner R., Performance Studies: An Introduction, Routledge, New York 2002.

Shay A., Choreographing Identities: Folk Dance, Ethnicity and Festival in the United States and Canada, McFarland & Co., Jefferson, NC 2006.

Walker M., Kathak Dance: A Critical History, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Toronto, Toronto 2004.

Welsch W., Transculturality the Puzzling Form of Cultures Today, in: M. Featherstone, S. Lash (eds.), Spaces of Culture: City, Nation, World, Sage, London 1999, pp. 194-213.



Interviews conducted by the author

Chakravorty Shauvik, pers. conv., Kolkata, March 8, 2015.

Ghose Ronnie Shambik, pers. conv., Kolkata, March 9, 2015.

Ghosh Anurekha, pers. conv., Kolkata, March 13, 2015.

Jalan Chetna, pers. conv., Kolkata, March 10-12, 2015.

Sengupta Mitul, pers. conv., Kolkata, March, 9-10, 2015.

Singh Beena, pers. conv., Lucknow, April 10, 2015.

Internet sites (access: 28.12.2015). (access: 7.12.2015). (access: 18.12.2015). (access: 16.12.2015). (access: 18.12.2015). (access: 16.12.2015).

Pierwotną wersją czasopisma jest wersja elektroniczna publikowana
kwartalnie w internecie. Czasopismo ukazuje się w sposób ciągły on-line.