Indian contemporary performance practices at the cusp: aesthetics of interdisciplinarity and transformation
Shrinkhla Sahai (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper would explore the overarching convergence in various genres of performance that is leading to the emergence of a unique Indian aesthetic in the world of contemporary performance practices.
Paper long abstract:
In contemporary performance practices there is a collateral move towards 'post-studio' art and 'post-dramatic' theatre. Performance art is a form where the artist invents his/her conventions or grammar of performance, in the sense that it does not have to follow a textual history or ritualistic history as might be in the case of many performing arts. In the context of India, a crucial question arises—is the form and content of performance art in India anchored in Western canons or is the avant-garde in this case influenced/in dialogue with other genres or practices? How have the genealogy and aesthetics of the genre evolved in India? This can be juxtaposed with a similar radical explorative trajectory in contemporary performing arts that are anchored in body work, for instance dance and physical theatre. Within contemporary dance-theatre practices, there has been a movement towards re-formulating the body in performance towards new 'gestures' of articulation i.e. new vocabularies that move away from, question, challenge or critique codified classical structures or text-based theatre. While on one hand there has been a shift towards the theatricality of the body in performance art, on the other hand dance-theatre has been gravitating towards a 'post-dramatic' possibility. This search for a new language provides ground for a detailed exploration of the performance aesthetic of the body. This paper explores whether the overarching convergence in various genres of performance is leading to the emergence of a unique Indian aesthetic in the world of contemporary performance practices.
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