Kala (black) for Kalbeliya, Saphed (white) for Sapera: Intercultural dialogues between Indian and Euro-American practitioners of Kalbeliya dance

01 October 2017 → 30 September 2020
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Art studies and sciences
kalbeliya dancers English Hindi Dutch Oriental languages Field research 20th Century Contemporary Asia Belgium Central Europe North America Northern Europe Eastern Europe Western Europe South America Southern Europe Theatre and performing arts Art Media Music Interculturalism History Gender
Project description

Indian dances have since long inspired women around the world, not only increasing the international success of staged performances, but also inspiring large numbers of Euro-American women to learn and/or become professionals in these dance styles. This project will study the relationship (the ‘intercultural dialogues’) between Indian and non-Indian performers, who
practice Kalbeliya dance from Rajasthan (India): it will compare what dance means in different cultures, disclose information about cultural exchange, and reveal how transnational travelling of dance practices influences global and local discourses on neo-Orientalism, gender, social stratification and livelihood. I will explore why and how women based in India, Europe and the USA produce and modify Indian dance together. I will question how these 3 groups of dancers represent each other and themselves? How do they deal with different discourses (on ‘Gypsy’ dance in Europe vs. 'tribal' dance in the USA vs. 'folk' dance in India) of the dance? Does Kalbeliya dance unite non-Indian and Indian performers or does it emphasize differences in identity (cultural
appropriation and discursive power relations)? Are these performances an artistic pastime or a way to earn money (artistic identity vs. socio-economic identity)? By applying multiple methods (dance ethnography, historical research, and textual media studies), I will gain full insight in transnational dance cultures of today.