Call for Conference Papers (fwd)

J.K. Brzezinski brzezins at
Thu Apr 14 17:14:56 UTC 1994

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 14 Apr 94 00:42:46 EDT
From: V. Subramaniam <vsubra at>
To: Multiple recipients of list <south-asia at>
Subject: Call for Conference Papers

Call for Papers and Participation:

Conference on India's Performing Arts in a Comparative International Context

Carleton University, Ottawa: Tentatively Mid-August 1994

This conference is an attempt to generate some sociological
analysis and discussion on India's performing arts, in
particular, the classical dance schools.  We also aim to do this
in a wider international context, discussing Indian dances in
their transplanted homes in Europe and North America, mutual
interactions and borrowings from Western ballet, the relation of
social class to artistic taste and art production and such
related topics. In this regard, Pierre Bourdieu's "La
Distinction" has ushered in much fresh thinking and meaningful
controversy on the sociology of artistic taste and the political
economy of culture. The discussion however has focused sharply
on Western art and its clientele with some spillover into
Japanese and African art.  India's performing arts and classical
dance in particular are still largely talked about in terms of
sacred associations, the forgotten connection with Devadasis or
in purely technical analysis of practice.  In reality, India's
classical dances have been most exposed to an international
audience and the most transplanted to non-Indian climes in
Europe and North America: The Indian diaspora alone provides a
fertile ground for sociological inquiry.  Similarly the
association of the performing arts with the upper castes and the
middle classes opens up interesting possibilities.  Both have
affected not only art appreciation but art production as well.  

This Conference, therefore aims to widen the debate in terms of
various socio-economic as well as socio-aesthetic parameters. 
At the same time, the Conference also seeks to bring together
academic researchers and practitioners in joint sessions for
demonstration and mutual criticism.

The suggested topics are just an indication of the areas for
exploration.  Any topic within our broad theme may be explored. 
The conference is not a showcase of performances, but a short
illustrative performance or demonstration in connection with a
thematic paper is welcome.  Thus a session on Varnam can include
snippets of a few minutes to emphasize some points.

All proposals for an academic paper or demonstration paper must
be made in the accompanying form. We hope to get some grant to
cover a part of the conference expenses.  It may be possible to
cover a part of the expenses of participants but participants
are encouraged to seek funding support from their own

***************** REPLY BY 01 MAY 94   **********************

Participants are requested to reply with following details well
before the 1st of May 1994 preferably by internet e-mail
(vsubra at or Fax (613) 788-4064): 

1. Full Name  
2. Role in Conference  
3. Degrees (starting with the most recent) 
4. Relevant Positions (starting with the most recent)  
5. Recent and relevant publications  
6. Abstract of paper to be presented 

(Please limit your reply to one page)

V. Subramaniam / Distinguished Research Professor



1)      The Indian diaspora in North America and the performing arts:
The tendency for dilution and search for prestige symbols and
identity through art; the interaction between first generation
Indians here and fourth generation Indians from the Caribbean.

2)      The emerging relation in India of the urban professional
classes to classical dance and music in terms of dictating taste
and in terms of patronage; the tendency to go back to textual
sources - partly by contact with the West; Western academic
research and its effect on the practice of dance and music.

3)      History and Sociology of the Performing Arts: Sacralization
of the arts in India versus secularizations in Europe after the
18th century; textual tradition versus practice in India; the
reorganizations of Bharata Natyam by the Tanjavur quartet in the
19th century and reasons for its survival; the dialectical
relations of  music and dance in different classical idioms and
the socio-historical reasons for it; the development of
ambivalent relations to Western Ballet.


4)      The relations of music and dance; is it an equal or unequal
relation?; is it dictated by tradition and to what extent?; the
dominant place of music in Bharata Natyam and its auxiliary
place in Kathakali: Instrumental music (western ballet) versus
vocal music (Indian Dance); recent experiments in music/dance
combinations; Sucheta Chapekar's use of Hindustani music and
Padma Subramanyam's use of Western music for Bharata Natyam.

5)      The evaluation of structured items in the Indian idioms such
as Varnam, Padam and Tillana in Bharata Natyam; the Pallavi in
Odissi; discussion of this topic would go together with
demonstration performances.

6)      Group dance versus individual dance; historical reasons for
the dominance of individual dance.  Varieties of Indian dance
drama; new experiments with multi media; hybridization and cross

7)      Choreography and Abhinaya: the Indian classical mime based on
facial and hand gestures versus totally ad hoc modern Western
choreography; Natyadharmi versus Lokadharmi; differences in
Abhinaya in different Indian classical idioms and their reasons;
Abhinaya as language based on traditional gestures; Abhinaya as
abstraction from reality; Abstract ideas and concretized
Abhinaya; classical Ballet choreography and post Martha Graham
choreography; use of drapery for Abhinaya; notation of Abhinaya;
Laban's efforts at notation.

Professor V. Subramaniam 
Department of Political Science
Carleton University
1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada   K1S 5B6

Tel: (613) 788-2600 ext 2798 (Office)
Fax: (613) 788-4064
Tel: (613) 731-2575 (Home)

e-mail: vsubra at


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