Anthropologist, dance artist, and choreographer Pallabi Chakravorty is a leading figure in the field of performance research on India. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in various Indian cities including Kolkata, Mumbai and Ahmedabad, which has resulted in five books. Two are single-authored (Bells of Change 2008, This is How We Dance Now, 2017) and three are co-edited (Performing Ecstasy 2009, Dance Matters 2009, Dance Matters Too 2018). In addition, she has published dozens of journal papers and book chapters, edited a proceedings (Dance in South Asia, 2002), and edited an ethnographic film (Kathak in the City). Her training in visual anthropology and the classical Indian dance form Kathak has allowed her research and choreographic projects to be richly grounded in interdisciplinary approaches. Her works bring together the visual and performing arts, history, anthropology, film and media studies, and gender and postcolonial studies.
Pallabi’s research and writing on the transformation of Indian performing arts has forged an original and critical approach to contemporary dance studies that challenges a western epistemological gaze. Her new project on Yoga, performance, and healing combines medical anthropology and physical practices. She hopes to break new ground with this work.
Pallabi founded Courtyard Dancers in 2000 to make dance works that express a postcolonial modernist voice. Her choreographies are based on historical and contemporary events in India such as partition, the anti nautch movement, Gandhi, migration, and violence. Courtyard Dancers is structured as a non-profit community-centered arts organization (with branches in Philadelphia and Kolkata) interested in developing dance/movement for cultural literacy and empowerment. It has presented the first dance and music festival devoted to the South Asian diaspora in Philadelphia titled Facing East in 2015 and 2017. Several videos of my choreographies are on the company website (www.courtyarddancers.org). For an excerpt of my recent work (Find Metiabruz), see here.
The courses I teach are wide-ranging and show students how the performing arts are vital to all societies and are a bridge to the humanities and social sciences. They are regularly cross-listed with Sociology and Anthropology, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Asian Studies, Film and Media Studies.
In addition to academic courses, I regularly teach Kathak dance technique and repertory classes in which I work with students to showcase Kathak-based choreographies in students concerts.
Dance and Diaspora
Arts in Action
Dancing Desire in Bollywood
Fieldwork of Music and Dance
Anthropology of Performance