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A Guru's JourneyPandit Chitresh Das and Indian Classical Dance in Diaspora$
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Sarah Morelli

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042867

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042867.001.0001

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Dancing Gender

Dancing Gender

(p.97) 5 Dancing Gender
A Guru's Journey

Sarah Morelli

University of Illinois Press

This chapter considers stylistic developments in Pandit Chitresh Das’s manner of teaching and performing kathak through the lens of Indian gender theory. In the 1980s and 1990s, Pandit Das began teaching mostly first- and second-generation South Asian American students whose families established themselves in the States following the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. This demographic shift led to broad changes in Pandit Das’s teaching, reflected in softer, rounded hand positions, upper-body movements, and repertoire considered more feminine. The chapter’s second section discusses masculine aspects of Pandit Das’s own dance, including his practice of dancing with dumbbells. Together, these sections consider how concepts of gender were expressed in Pandit Das’s evolving kathak style and how the half-male, half-female Hindu deity ardhanārīśvara influenced Pandit Das’s dance philosophy.

Keywords:   teaching and performing, kathak, gender theory, second-generation, South Asian American, 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, demographic shift, feminine, masculine

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