Thursday 6 February 2020

First Steps - Choreographing between two worlds - India and the United States: Column by Janaki Patrik

I didn't set out to be a choreographer. I would have been happy if someone else made dances for me. But that just didn't happen. When I returned to Chicago in 1969 after my initial training at Kathak Kendra, there was no ready-made niche waiting for me to fill. Very few people even knew what classical Indian dance looked like. If I tried to describe Kathak, people would rotate their hips and waggle their heads, saying, "Oh, like belly dance . . . . ?" I performed in the Indian student organizations at the University of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology and Northwestern University. But I was limited to giving lecture-demonstrations accompanied by music on two reels which Maharaj-ji and musicians had recorded at the Sangeet Natak studios in 1969. The same recorded music - time-after-time.

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