chapter  7
27 Pages

Imag(in)ing the Nation: Uday Shankar’s Kalpana: Urmimala Sarkar Munsi

ByUday Shankar’s Kalpana

For a long while, the elite in India did not acknowledge the presence of dance as a part of their culture and existence; then came a stage when dance became the emblem of a rich and glorious history and tradition — an image that has stayed. Folk and tribal dances were part of the culture of the unrepresented few, good for showcasing the variety and the ‘ethnicness’ of the Indian people, so they were required to be put in a special category where they were clearly part of the non-elite mass, good for exhibition-like circumstances of the Republic Day parade or India Festivals abroad but never deemed good enough to be representative of ‘high’ Indian culture. The ‘pure’ form of dance came into existence almost through an elaborate engineering process whence the grammar was systematically structured, the link to the Natyasastra both deliberately and systematically sought and established and, in most cases, even the name of the form invented. In this deliberate process of shaping dance history and geography, there was no place for people who did not want to be categorized into either of the two above mentioned categories: classical and folk.