Having established herself as a leading performer of bharata nāṭyam, by 1960 Chandralekha Prabhudas Patel—professionally known as Chandralekha—felt a need to move beyond the genre’s boundaries and began to pursue ideas about fusing Indian dance traditions with modern idioms.
Chandralekha was a firm believer in the need for resuscitating older forms with contemporary energy, drawing also on martial art and therapeutic traditions. Always a controversial figure, she criticized plastic smiles, fake religiosity, and mindless repetition of mythological themes. A voracious reader, a gifted writer, and a poet, she lived a full life and influenced a whole generation of young dancers.
This according to “Rebel with a cause” by Sunil Kothari (Sruti 269 [February 2007] pp. 16–19).
Today would have been Chandralekha’s 90th birthday! Below, a brief documentary about her life and work.
Performances of Bollywood dances among Indian diasporic populations are sites of Hindi film reception, and part of understanding this involves analyzing the dances as they exist in the films and the processes surrounding their transformation into performed works.
A comparison of the choreography of the song Dola re dola in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas(2002) with a newly choreographed version by the U.S. fusion dance troupe Chamak demonstrates how the latter dispensed with the former’s plot-driven elements and Bollywood glitz to become a display of the troupe’s perceptions of both their Indian-American identities and their cultural heritage.
This according to “Swaying to an Indian beat: Dola goes my diasporic heart—Exploring Hindi film dance” by Sangita Shresthova (Dance research journal XXXVI/2 [winter 2004] pp. 91–101.
Above and below, the Bollywood version; further below, Chamak’s version (performance begins around 0:25).
For it [the Walkman] permits the possibility…of imposing your soundscape on the surrounding aural environment and thereby domesticating the external world: for a moment, it can all be brought under the STOP/START, FAST FOWARD, PAUSE and REWIND buttons. –Iain Chambers, “The … Continue reading →
In 1947 Ella Fitzgerald, already an acclaimed singer of jazz standards, toured with Dizzy Gillespie, immersing herself in the new style known as bebop. Like Dizzy, Ella responded to bebop’s complex harmonies with an infallible ear, and easily translated its … Continue reading →
Gertrude “Ma” Rainey’s Prove it on me blues affirms her independence from orthodox norms by boldly celebrating her lesbianism. Rainey’s sexual involvement with women was no secret with both colleagues and audiences. The advertisement for the song (above, click to … Continue reading →
The American traditional song Go tell Aunt Rhody originated as a gavotte composed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau for his opera Le devin du village (1752). An English version of the opera was produced in London in 1766; subsequently the melody attracted … Continue reading →