Bookstore Event: Hari Krishnan, "Celluloid Classicism"

Tuesday, December 3, 2019
7:00 PM (ET)
Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore
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Bookstore Event

“A striking achievement, Celluloid Classicism deepens and broadens conventional histories of South Indian performance. Meticulously researched and conceptually rich, Krishnan’s work illustrates the aesthetic debt modern bharatanatyam owes to South Indian cinema while also demonstrating cinema’s reliance on local dance and theatre traditions." —Janet O’Shea, author of At Home in the World: Bharata Natyam on the Global Stage
Celluloid Classicism: Early Tamil Cinema and the Making of Modern Bharatanātyam traces the entangled emergence of these two modern art forms from the 1930s to the late 1950s—decades that were marked by distinctly new, interocular modes of cultural production in cosmopolitan Madras. The book investigates how two of the most prominent cultural forms of modern South India, Tamil cinema and Bharatanāṭyam dance, share complex and deeply intertwined histories. Bringing over a decade of archival research into conversation with choreographic analysis and ethnography, this work addresses key questions around the fluid and reciprocal exchange of knowledge between screen and stage versions of Bharatanāṭyam in the early decades of the twentieth century.
The book includes deliberations on subjects such as participation of women from the devadasi (courtesan) community in the cinema, the period of the urban “reinvention” of dance from the standpoint of cinematic history, the impact of the forces of cultural nationalism and regionalism, and the making of new aesthetic vocabularies and technique for Bharatanāṭyam. Taken together, the materials presented in Celluloid Classicism provide a rich and detailed cultural history that draws lateral and paravisual linkages between the production and circulation of Tamil cinema and Bharatanāṭyam dance.
HARI KRISHNAN is associate professor of dance at Wesleyan University. He is currently co-editing a new volume entitled Dance and the Early South Indian Cinema (Oxford University Press. He is also the artistic director of Toronto-based dance company inDANCE, and as an award winning dancemaker, is commissioned internationally for his bold and transgressive choreography.

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