“Dancing on a Hyphen”: an exploration of culture and identity

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This weekend, Anita Kumar ’06 will present her senior dance project entitled “Dancing on a Hyphen” at the Troy Dance studio in LPAC. The performance will focus on South Asian American Identity through the venues of dance, theater, music and language. The performances will be on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

The project consists of a medley of various types of dance. In addtion to popular forms of dance such as modern and ballet, Indian forms of dance such as Bharat Natyam and Kathak are also included. “Not all the dancers are Asian-American, so the project actually consists of a bigger picture of multiple identities,” adds Kumar. The performances are divided into five sections; “each section reveals a person’s individual style,” says Kumar.

Rozina Ali ’06 and Mamta Jhaveri ’06 will be performing a duet. Neal Dandade’ 06 will be acting in one of the performing sections. Kumar will have her own Kathak performance solos. The music of the preformance is an interesting mix of classical raagas and melodies. Many of the melodies are created by Devi Ramkissoon ’06 by an indian instrument known as dilruba. Other instrumental music consists of a tabla performance, including one by Deoroop Matapersad ’09. “It’s great that this is such a collaborative effort,” adds Kumar.

While most seniors present their senior project in the spring semester, Kumar is presenting hers this semester and has been working on her project since the spring of last year. As support for her dance project, Kumar received a grant from Friends Music and Dance. Kumar has received departmental support from the English, Music, Theater, and Psychology departments. She has also received support from other organizations such as Multi and the ICC.

Kumar defines “Dancing on a Hyphen” as an experience to “learn your inherited culture but also to find your own voice to create your own experience.” The performance represents a way “to find balance in life, for me it’s dance,” adds Kumar. For those of us looking to catch a fusion of cultural expression, “Dancing on a Hyphen” promises to be a unigue and interesting venture.

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