Illicit Worlds of Indian Dance review – high camp and sliding glances

Rich Mix, London
Classical Indian dance meets Bollywood drag in a night of tradition and subversion

Akademi was founded in 1979 to promote the understanding of South Asian dance in Britain, and in Illicit Worlds of Indian Dance, an event curated by writer and ethnomusicologist Anna Morcom, the organisation leads us into some of the art form’s more secretive byways.

Natalia Hildner opens the evening with a traditional mujra dance. Her performance, delicately lyrical in its interplay of gaze and gesture, reproduces those of the courtesans of the Mughal era, who danced to ghazals (love poems) for princes and nawabs. Mujra dancers were highly valued for their classical kathak dance skills but were considered unmarriable. Moralistic legislation in the late 19th and early 20th century further marginalised them, forcing many into prostitution.

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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