Accepted Paper:

Negotiating changes in the context of Odissi dance in India  


Barbara Curda (Université Clermont Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, France)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at multicultural aspects of the Indian dance form Odissi from the point of view of individual contributions to a reality - including the researcher's. Practised by a variety of people in different places, negotiations on 'preserving its tradition' generate specific tension fields.

Paper long abstract:

The dance form Odissi, projected as cultural heritage from the Indian state Orissa, is in its definition itself bound to a specific territory. Yet since what has been called its "revival" in the context of post-Independence India, dancers, dance teachers & choreographers have been spreading this form in diverse urban centres, amongst different sections of society, multiplying changes according to the diverse environments they evolved in. Certain factors, for example the dancer's/ choreographer's eagerness to perform 'abroad', and the increasing presence of white, yellow & other 'other' learners of the dance, suggest that 'the West' is important to the Odissi world.

Despite the diversity of actors, issues emerge around the concept of 'preserving tradition'. Independently from individual aspirations or activities, specific aspects of a person's identity open certain avenues rather than others, & contribute to this tension field.

By examining encountered situations, this paper proposes to question the individual's contribution to this reality through the particularity of the researcher's position, looking at her as a person acting on & being acted upon by 'the community'. How is the process of knowledge production influenced by her integration into the group, & diverse aspects of her multifaceted identity?

Panel W062
Dance, Europe and the ethnographic encounter