06 March, 2021

No Beauty Or Aesthetics: How Expansivist 'Culture' Killed Dance

The old grammar of aesthetics boiled things down to their essence. Expansivist Hindu ‘Kultur’ killed that delicate dance.

No Beauty Or Aesthetics: How Expansivist 'Culture' Killed Dance

At the very outset, I would like to state that dance is not peripheral, but critically central to the construction of Indian nationalism. And the Devadasi, the temple dancer, also derogatorily remembered by some as the temple-prostitute, plays a very central role in this enterprise. The unexplainable paradox of the sacred/profane Devadasi put the Hindoos on the backfoot as they were categorically shamed by the British for harbouring such a “degenerate” belief system that mixed the sacral with the sexual. Therefore, her obliteration became imperative for India—a modern nation-­in-the-making—for two main reasons: a) because she was an unspeakable embarrassment within the frame of Victorian morality, and b) because her liminal status, that of being both/neither priestess and/or pleasure woman, could in no way be accommodated within the categorical schemata of ‘modernity’.

It is quite a coup, the way this rather...

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