Accepted Paper:

The transformation of the classical dance in the multi-cultural society: the Indian dance in Malaysia  


Mayuri Koga (Rissho University)

Paper short abstract:

The Indian "classical" dance is deeply related with Hinduism. But in the Islam dominant and multi-cultural society, the Indian dance becomes more secular and emphasizes aesthetic phase rather than religious mind and transforms its style according to the situation.

Paper long abstract:

The Indian temple and courtesan dance was revived as the "classical" dance, Bhratanatyam after 1930's. Bharatanatyam is deeply related with Hinduisim and the main theme of pieces is love to the god. Bharatanatyam became so popular that it was to be considered as one of the representative of Indian culture. As the Indian diaspora increase, Bhratanatyam also immigrated into other countries. In the case of Malaysia, the Indian dance was introduced through the film and oriental dancers in 1950's. Because of the multi-ethnic country, multi-cultural dance was more appreciated rather than pure Indian dance. The two couple dances joined and Temple Fine Arts was founded in 1981 under one saint. The dancers who made the Indian dance more popular were two Muslim dancers. However, most of Indian dance companies were not supported by Malaysian government. Since the late 1990's, Malaysian government started the "Malaysia Truly Asia" campaign to promote the tourism. Performance of Malay, Chinese and Indian dance became the symbol of "unity of diversity". But in the dance performed on the stage related to tourism, tradition and religious expression are taken off and dance is more casual. In 2005, National Academy of the Arts and Culture and Heritage included Bharatanatyam into the subject of Dance Department. Majority of the students are Malay, so teachers have to abstain from enforcing religious phase. Thus the Indian dance tends to be secular spectacle as a part of "one Malaysia" to survive in the multi-cultural country.

Panel P005
The transformation of South Asian performing arts in the age of globalization: an anthropological analysis