Dancing Women: Choreographing Corporeal Histories of Hindi Cinema Please join us for a book talk by Usha Iyer, a fellow at both the Stanford Humanities Center and the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity for 2020–21.
While the very mention of Bollywood evokes images of big-budget song-and-dance spectacles, there is little scholarship on dance in Indian cinema. Film scholar Usha Iyer will discuss her new book, Dancing Women: Choreographing Corporeal Histories of Hindi Cinema, which is an ambitious study of two of South Asia’s most popular cultural forms, cinema and dance. Iyer examines female dancing in popular Hindi cinema from the 1930s to the 1990s to explore how cinematic dance forms produce unique constructions of gender, sexuality, stardom, and spectacle.
Through attention to gesture, movement vocabulary, training, rehearsal, fame, and erasure, the book posits the need for corporeal histories that are peopled by many laboring bodies. Such a history takes into account acclaimed and invisibilized performers and celebrates a range of dancing women as co-choreographers of female mobility. The dancing women who choreograph this narrative are protean figures, shape-shifting through the webs of patriarchal, industrial practices, producing in the process a variegated, textured history of dance, music, theater, and cinema.