By Susan Leigh Foster (eds.)

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Example text

Instead, Gopal argued: ‘That is of no importance. ’ (Idestam-Almqvist, 1949, my translation). A congenial answer, the critic The Power of Classification 23 agreed, since it supported his own statement about the problems of authenticating or classifying Indian dancing. For the 1948 and 1949 tours to Europe and Sweden, the young dancer Lilavati Devi was a member of the Gopal dance company. A couple of years later she married the Swedish impresario of the tour and settled in Sweden, where she performed, choreographed, and taught, and she was for several years my teacher in Bharatanatyam.

The men rejoin the celebratory scene. As the set darkens to night, some men and women couple up, the men lifting and turning with the women. The narrative of the dance intensifies as one young woman begins a dance of sensual attraction, reaching with her arm and turning a full circle, beckoning, instigating, lightly gasping at the pleasure she finds in her own swoops and stretches. Her hands are on her belly, she reaches out, her legs apart; she cups her hands in front of her thighs and groin, her hair flipping, while the Grandmother, watching from the shadows, dances with her.

2 The dance begins with life emerging into physical form, and includes coupling, death, and birth scenes that foreground women’s sensuality, and joyfully celebrate Haudenosaunee ways of being and knowing. It shows a world animated with human and spirit beings. It uses space – both the way bodies move through the stage space (circular floor patterns, movements in the four directions) and the spiraling movement of bodies in that space – to confirm Indigenous spatial understandings. It incorporates specific Haudenosaunee dance steps into its choreography.

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