Rukmini Devi: rethinking the classical

O'Shea, Janet (2005) Rukmini Devi: rethinking the classical. In: Rukmini Devi Arundale: A Visionary Architect of Indian Culture and Performing Arts. Avanthi, Meduri, ed. Motilal Barnarsidass, New Delhi, pp. 225-245. ISBN 9788120827400. [Book Section]


This essay is a contribution to a volume of work by key scholars and artists in the Indian classical dance field, and was written in the context of Project 7 for the AHRC Research Centre in Cross-Cultural Music/Dance (SOAS/ Surrey/ Roehampton). The anthology was edited by Avanthi Meduri,who ran a research centre in Delhi at the time of publication. As part of Project 7, we provided funds for Meduri to put together a panel at the Nehru Centre, London (co-funded by the Society for Dance Research), on Rukmini Devi. The Chapter in that volume was significant in that it provided me with the opportunity to appear alongside key figures in the Indian dance criticism/scholarship fields and to bring international perspectives Indian audiences. The essay is widely assigned to graduate student classes at the Centre for Social Science Research in Kolkata. It discusses the typical discourse on the twentieth-century Bharata Natyam revivalist Rukmini Devi, which tends toward critique or celebration. Analysing the decisions that Rukmini Devi made in pedagogy and performance, alongside her verbal discussions of this form, it attempts to move beyond these two options, by analysing the aesthetic principles of her work. These principles are positioned alongside the historical concerns of her time, demonstrating her resistance, colonialism and orientalism through her choreographic projects. Using Mark Franko's (1989) definition of reinvention as the extraction of and experimentation with the aesthetic principles of the past, the chapter argues that Rukmini Devi's project was a reinvention, rather than a revival of past practice, and considers how these principles can, in turn, challenge present-day practice.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts
Item ID: 723
Depositing User: Repository team
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2008 17:06
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:12

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