"Now is the right time. Come, come!": Unpacking Gender, Caste, and Humor in Bharatanatyam Performances of Eroticism

Anusha Kedhar, Assistant Professor in Dance, University of California, Riverside

Anusha Kedhar is a scholar and practitioner of Indian dance. She was born and raised in Southern California but lived and worked in London, UK for several years as a professional dancer. She attended University of California, Berkeley (BA), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (MS), and University of California, Riverside (Ph.D.) where she received her doctorate in Critical Dance Studies in 2011. Her research interests include dance in India and the Indian diaspora, global political economy, and ethnographic methods in dance studies.

Kedhar’s book, Flexible Bodies: British South Asian Dancers in an Age of Neoliberalism (Oxford University Press, 2020), focuses on South Asian dancers in the UK and the creative ways in which they negotiate the demands of neoliberal, multicultural dance markets through an array of flexible bodily practices, including agility, versatility, mobility, speed, and risk-taking. Bringing together economic theories of flexible labor with embodied notions of flexibility in dance, the book re-frames flexibility as both a tool of labor exploitation as well as a bodily skill that dancers cultivate to navigate neoliberal multiculturalism. Kedhar’s writing on choreography, gesture, and Black Lives Matter protests has been featured in The Feminist Wire and The New York Times. She is currently working on a new project on eroticism (sringara) in bharata natyam.

Kedhar is an established performer and choreographer and has been a practitioner of bharata natyam for over 35 years. She trained with Ramya Harishankar (US) and has collaborated and performed with various contemporary South Asian choreographers in the US, UK, and Europe, including Mayuri Boonham (UK), Johanna Devi (Germany), Mavin Khoo (UK), Cynthia Ling Lee (US), Meena Murugesan (US), and Subathra Subramaniam (UK). Her solo choreography has been presented at the Southbank Centre (London), Mediterranean Institute for Theatre and Performance (Malta), UCLA (Los Angeles), Colorado College (Colorado), and Gibney Dance (New York). Kedhar is a Fulbright Scholar to India and the winner of the Selma Jeanne Cohen Award for dance scholarship. She previously taught at Colorado College and the University of Malta.