SITTING next to a dance icon who had just won every award, for his stunning choreography in the Broadway hit The Lion King, was a mini event in my life. Garth Fagan, the Jamaican dance artist was a panelist on the forum Other Cultures Informing Modern Dance. Lincoln Centre in New York was jammed with many famous names of post modern dance. Trisha Brown, Elizabeth Streb and Twyla Tharp. We were discussing the Eurocentric “optic” of watching all dance through Anglo Saxon eyes.
Fagan, who specializes in erotic pairing on stage, showed a clip from Griot, a dance about life in a big city. A man and a woman, both topless were engaged in a langorous and exquisite duet. Immediately after I showed a clip of my then newly created and highly praised work Daughters Of The Ocean; an autobiographical narration of dance-theatre where the tales of my family were woven with the myths of Indian Goddesses. The four dancers in the clip were all clothed. The two men topless with dhotis and the two women, myself included, wore very simple dhotis and kurtis. The clip ended and the first question Fagan asked me was “Why are you wearing a shirt?”
A moment of silence. Hackles raised, fangs sharpened and smile pasted on, I turned to Fagan and told him that his Afro-Caribbean DNA may have contained images of women with pendulum boobs, but in India a small piece of cloth covers even the poorest woman’s breasts. Exposing our melons was not modern in ANY context!
Today my words of 8 years ago seem outdated. Now we see breasts
everywhere-on TV, movies, ads and the daily party page. Nipped and tucked society dames with exposed cleavages will make Garth Fagan smile in satisfaction that India has modernized!