India: Politics of Dance, Dance of Politics

Our Studies & Adventures This Academic Year

Faculty: Ratna Roy, Jeanne Hahn

This interdisciplinary program will examine dance, politics and culture in the world’s largest democracy: India. India has a rich social and political history and is the home of the Indus Valley Civilization as well as the Sanskritic legacy of art, architecture, dance, music and theater. In the fall quarter, we will immerse ourselves in a study of India. We will attempt to understand how, upon independence in 1947, India became a functioning democracy. Its democratic institutions were shaped in large part by its long history, colonial rule and the social context at independence. To understand India’s complex experience with democracy since 1947, we will investigate the changing relations of religion, caste, class and ethnicity, as well as the recent formation of a vibrant middle class.

India has also been shaped by its ancient traditions of art, dance and literature. Since dance, theater, and music have a special place in the context of Indian life, politics and culture, we will study some of the ancient literature that has shaped Indian thought over the centuries, as well as some of the art forms, visual and performing, that have continued to the present day or have been re-created in their neo-classical form from classical archives. Over the fall, students will design collaborative or individual projects to be carried out in the winter as they travel and study in India. Priority for enrollment in this program will be given to students who plan to travel to India in the winter.

In the winter, we will spend six weeks traveling in India deepening and contextualizing our fall studies. We will experience political dance theater and gain a deeper understanding of India’s culture, traditions and rapidly changing present. We will spend time in several major cities to experience a measure of India’s diversity and complexity and engage with groups involved in political dance theater. We will return to Evergreen with sufficient time to complete the projects and to reflect upon and analyze the two quarters’ work.

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