Sunday 31 August 2014

Modern Indian dance - Ashish Mohan Khokar

The Oxford Dictionary describes modern as: Contradistinction to classical/tradition; of the present times, just now, existing, pertaining to the present and recent times, contrasting to an earlier form.
In any field – design, architecture, films, music – modern means a new language, which is distinguishable from old, something new and something that holds as modern.  In Indian dance this is very complex and often the most misunderstood word. What part is modern and what part is Indian? Is fusion leading to confusion? Are traditions being sacrificed for something western?  Are non-government funding agencies and journalism teaching schools, subverting Indian classical traditions just to pander to western powers or next trip to Germany or Guyana?

Presently, Indian modern dance or modern dance in India is neither Indian nor modern. Using traditional forms like Kalari and Chhau, adding western costumes and music does not make it modern. Modern means a whole new language, which appeals and is understandable. Not just decorative dance as many dance groups are trying to do.  New does not mean modern though modern can be new. Newness is in structure and substance of art, in its content. Modern is often mistaken for contemporary. Contemporary dance is a reflection of a society at a given point in time. Every generation has a contemporary response to everything: fashion, film, design, dance, music, painting but it does not necessarily mean it is modern.

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