Pallabi Chakravorty is an Associate Professor in the Program (on leave 2011-2012). Her areas of interest are reflected in her classes which include Kathak, dance theory, and dance and anthropology.
I have been a student of Indian dance all my conscious life. My undergraduate degree is in English literature from Jadavpur University, Calcutta. I was inspired by the romantic poets of England and the romantic and spiritual love of the Indian Bhakti tradition. I wanted to meld theory and practice. My doctoral degree is in Visual Anthropology with a focus on Kathak and women's identity from Temple University. Dance for me is both an artistic expression and a debate inside my head through which I try to make sense of the world around me.
At Swarthmore, I teach Kathak dance technique and repertory classes, as well as academic and writing courses with an interdisciplinary focus. Some of my course titles are "Dance and Diaspora," "Visual Anthropology of Performance," and "Dancing Desire in Bollywood."
My research reflects my long immersion in classical Indian dance, ethnographic method, and social theory. I have been conducting fieldwork in India since 1995. My areas of interest include South Asia, expressive culture, globalization, and embodiment. My interdisciplinary research has been published in scholarly journals such as Dance Research Journal, Visual Anthropology, South Asia, Dance Chronicle, Sruti, Moving World, and Pulse. I have written a book titled Bells of Change: Kathak Dance, Women and Modernity in India, and have co-edited two other books (Performing Ecstasy; Dance Matters) and edited a volume of proceedings (Dance in South Asia). In my current research I am looking at television reality shows and Bollywood dance in the context of the "new" India.
My creative work happens in dance studios and classrooms. I regularly choreograph and stage Kathak dance pieces with my students for the Student Concerts at Swarthmore. My creative work is also connected to community building through the contemporary Indian dance ensemble I founded and direct, The Courtyard Dancers. We have staged our works in several prominent venues in Philadelphia, New York, Washington D.C, and Los Angeles. Through the Courtyard Dancers I also collaborate with other artists. (www.courtyarddancers.org)
I regularly present my work in national and international conferences and festivals. I have organized international conferences here and in India. I am on the board of Dance Chronicle and a member of the American Anthropological Association, CORD, and Society of Dance History Scholars. I work with the Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia and the Courtyard Dancers to do outreach work with different communities.