The Ramifications of Interculturalism on Traditional Dance Forms: An Exploration of Kathak and Bomba by Romanee R. Kalicharran 12.19.2005
Copyright © 2006 by Romanee R. Kalicharran
Interculturalism is a term that has entered the vocabulary of artists and scholars with the need to understand the phenomenon and implications of cultural mixing among peoples throughout the globe. In the realm of the performing arts the term is used to describe an exchange, influence, or borrowing of performing arts features. This thesis focuses on the role of interculturalism in the performing arts and more specifically its ramifications on traditional dance forms.
In the background essay, I explore Kathak and Bomba as prime examples and scenarios for points of interculturalism. Kathak, a North Indian classical dance, and Bomba, a Puerto Rican folk music and dance form, both have intercultural histories and lend themselves to a unique study and comparison of intercultural development as well as present-day evolution. I also stress that the individual artist plays a major role in the future of forms such as these when utilizing them in new works.
Issues that arise in this discourse are subjective to many points of view on preserving tradition, the artists’ need to foster new creative works, rights to cultural property, and the future of traditional dance forms. Today, traditionalists and innovative artists play a major role in preserving and evolving dance by intercultural means. Cultural influence is simultaneously being absorbed as well as rejected by artists and culture bearers.
In the histories of Kathak and Bomba interculturalism can be seen as political pressures and circumstances that have as a result affected the features of each form. However, contemporary interculturalism is seen as a choice made by the artist whether or not that person is affected by cultural mixing. Ultimately the role of the artist will determine the fate of traditional dance forms.
My intercultural choreographic work is informed by my mixed heritage, inspiring me to relate my Indo-Guyanese and Puerto Rican sides via art. I aim to use interculturalism as a teaching and uniting tool for audiences and artists otherwise unexposed to these traditional dance forms. In my piece, “Where Kathak and Bomba Meet in Me,” I stage a purposefully intercultural performance to display Kathak and Bomba technique and ways in which the artist can relate dance forms interculturally without affecting the integrity of their traditional features. The artistic aims and technical essays trace my thought process and rationale behind specific artistic choices as well as the steps I took to realize the performance.
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