India dances to the rhythms of a million rural feet. With no formal training in dance, unaware of classical traditions, the innocent dancers of the villages dance because they must. A happy, vigorous ode to life and living.
The richness and variety, expanse and extent of the country's folk-dance forms are captured in this book, in all their entirety. Several unknown forms-some on the verge of extinction - have been featured, as a record of the last century, a period of change and transition.
The book is in many ways the first of its kind, for it also encapsulates ritual, martial and tribal dances.
The cultural expression of India is an varied in style as it is in form and this is due partly to the size of the land, its myriad religions, races, beliefs, customs and its many layered history.
The series combines pieces of this splendid mosaic with an eye on the apparent as well as the hidden nuances; on tradition and continuity as well as the winds of change.
About The Author
Ashish Mohan Khokar's voice carries a stamp of authority, as a seasoned commentator on Indian dance. He hails from the first family of dance in India. His father, the late Mohan Khokar, is universally accepted as a pioneering scholar of Indian dance and created India's largest archive on dance. His mother, M. K. Saroja, is a veteran Bharatanatyam dancer and guru. Ashish himself learnt three classical dance forms and has worked as an arts administrator internationally co-ordinating the Festivals of India in France, Sweden, Germany and China. He was Director of INTACH and Martand Singh Consultants. He has authored several books on Indian arts and culture and is a dance critic and columnist of the world's largest circulated daily The Time of India. He publishes and edits India's first and only year-book on dance, Attendance.
He is married to Elisabeth and they live in Chennai and Bangalore.
India dances to the rhythms of a million rural feet. Without formal training in dance, unaware of classical traditions, mostly unlettered and totally unfettered, the innocent dancers of the villages of India dance because they must. There is no reason for their dance, except a desire to celebrate life. Unlike dancers rigorously groomed in the classical genres, the folk dancers have no agenda of attaining glory or greatness, no hope of awards or rewards, no experience of commendation or adulations. They dance because they are meant to.
Like most folk cultures around the world, the folk traditions of India, too, encompass a great variety of occasions and events to celebrate. Farmers and agricultural workers practically have a dance to welcome every seasonal change. They dance with joyous abandon to create for themselves their raison d'etre - a reinstatement of the beliefs rooted in the mythology of their land and culture.
Nothing is for effect. Their dance is not staged. There is no formal platform, except for the vast scenic theatre of open fields or a riverbank - or just a village square. Men, women, and children, the young and the old alike, participate in the dance of joy. They believe that their dance is a kind of prayer to Nature and its puissant gods, a prayer that invokes and propitiates, as well as gives thanks, they dance not for an audience, but for themselves.
The folk dancers comprise a large segment of India's populace, which otherwise has no connection to or background in dancing. Hard working and not very affluent, the rural folk form the nucleus of the village economy. And in their everyday lives they weave a tapestry of song and dance at birth and death, marriage and festival.
It is said that for such a large country as India, there are far too few classical dance forms. True, but this paucity is easily offset by the abundant variety of folkdances in virtually all nooks and crannies of the country. There are over a hundred forms of folk dances in India, with regional variations. Everywhere, ranging from hamlets tucked into the rugged Himalayan foothills in the north, the lush plains of the Gangetic belt, the estuaries of the east, the valleys of the west, and the riverbanks of the south, folk dancing takes place throughout the year. It needs on promotion or projection. It is simply a happy, vigorous ode to life and living.
In independent India, there has been a large-scale migration of people from the villages to the cities. Urbanization has brought the erstwhile villagers in touch with city glamour, consumerism, the rat race, educational degrees, politics, cinema, and television. These urban influences are steadily seeping into Indian villages, alienating the simple folk from their traditional moorings while often doing nothing to improve their quality of life in terms of basic needs. But in the process, the rest of the country has come to know of these innocent, rustic people to whom dance is not an act or public performance but a part of life itself. In their folk dances lies India's traditional essence.
This book is an attempt to take you on a rhythmic journey through the different states of India and catch the beats of Indian folk culture.
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