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Anne-Marie Gaston

Preparing the ground for dance: Ritual, sacred space.

Gaston, Anne-Marie: Preparing the ground for dance: Ritual, sacred space", 16th International Congress on Dance Research, Corfu, Greece, 30/10-3/11, 2002.

Prior to performing Indian dance, the space must be sanctified. For this, stylized ritual movements are performed. The belief, based on ancient texts, is that performing specific invocatory movements is imperative if the performance is to be a success. These rituals are intended to ask for the blessing of the gods, mother earth, the audience and the teacher. Because the movements vary within each Indian dance style, I will demonstrate from two styles traditionally performed by women as part of temple ritual (Bharata Natyam and Odissi) and two styles traditionally performed by men as part of a martial art tradition (Kathakali and Chhau). The visuals that will accompany this lecture demonstration will be professional quality 35 mm slides of temple sculptures of dancers as well as those of present day dancers in costume. The intent of this lecture-demonstration is to illustrate the rich tapestry of Indian dances, their connection with temple art and ritual and their range of movement and diversity.

Equipment required: Cassette machine to play original recording of dance music made by me in India. This will accompany the demonstration. Kodak carousel slide projector for 35 mm slides.

The author

Anjali, Anne-Marie Gaston (Dr), is an internationally recognized dancer who has performed in India, Europe, Mexico, USA and across Canada. She has trained in several styles of Indian classical dance in India for over 30 years with some of the greatest teachers. She is also a choreographer, teacher, photographer, ethnographer and lecturer. She performs the traditional repertoire of Bharata Natyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Chhau and Kathakali and these strongly influence her creative work. Anjali is founder and Artistic Director of Cultural Horizons, and a founding member of Ottawa Dance Network. Born in Ottawa, she has been performing and teaching in Canada since 1967. Anjali holds an M. Litt. and D. Phil. from OxfordUniversity in Indian Art and Culture and she is an elected fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, London, England. She has published three books: Siva in Dance Myth and Iconography (Oxford University Press, third edition), Bharata Natyam: from Temple to Theatre (second edition), and Krishna's Musicians, Music and Music Making in the Shri Nathji Haveli, Nathdvara, Rajasthan (Manohar). Anjali teaches Indian classical dances in Ottawa and is active in cross-cultural education. She is a research-associate in the Department of Music, CarletonUniversity, and a member of the Intercultural Research Lab at the University of Ottawa. She also presents lectures for the Department of Theatre at the University of Ottawa and at CanterburySchool for the Arts. Anjali was a founding member of the Ottawa Dance Network.

Dr Anne-Marie Gaston, Anjali

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