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Tagore's Mystique of Dance

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About the author Dr. Utpal K. Banerjee has been an adviser on Management and Information Technology for thirty-five years, after having studied on a doctoral programme in the UK as a Commonwealth Scholar from 1968–1972. He has an abiding interest in Indian art and culture. His formal exposure to the visual and performing arts of the world was through courses conducted at the Extra-Mural Department, University of Manchester, UK. Dr. Banerjee has been National Project Director for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) relating to the UNDP project on Multimedia Database for Art and Culture Documentation and Computerisation from 1991–1993. In the nineties, Dr. Banerjee gave lectures on Indian art and culture, organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), in Canada and South America. He was also invited by the Kala Bharati Foundation of Canada to speak on the same subject. Dr. Banerjee has been writing on the arts and culture in several newspapers and journals and is a regular contributor on cultural and professional programmes to London BBC, All India Radio and Indian television. He has also written several books, including Hindu Joy of Life (Niyogi Books, Delhi, 2006), which has gone into a second edition. His forthcoming book, Luminous Harmony: Indian Art and Culture (Niyogi Books, in press) is a major work on the subject. He was awarded the Padma Shri ‘in recognition of distinguished service in literature and education’ in 2009.

Rabindranath Tagore derived inspiration from diverse sources while articulating his unparalleled ingenuity in the realm of visual, literary and performing arts. However, in this process, there always emerged an unmistakable fount of creativity of his own, uniquely expressed through Rabindra Nritya (Tagore’s Dance). This book examines, with archival images, three key hypotheses: What were the evolutionary features of Tagore’s dance-persona? What seminal cross-cultural liaisons did he undertake—within and outside India—to arrive at a coherent choreographic mindset, leading to the genre of Rabindra Nritya? And, what dance-vocabulary and supportive literary content could now be its imprimatur? Beginning with an overview of Tagore’s multi-faceted persona and the role played by the natural surroundings of Santiniketan, as well as the crags and crevices of British, German and Polish culture in nurturing his virtuoso genius, this book explores how Tagore initiated a genre of ‘mood dance’, incorporating the most suitable dance elements from the classical dances of the Indian sub-continent and the regional dances of the Asia-Pacific; and how he brought forth an efflorescence of wonderful seasonal odes, exquisite music dramas and dance-dramas that remain unparalleled in Indian cultural milieu. Recapitulating the basics of Indian grammar of dance and re-mapping Tagore’s Dance in that light, Tagore’s Mystique of Dance looks back at the treasure-trove of his music and the panoply of his paintings, unearthing only the dancing figures, thereby unravelling their mystique. Finally, in a unique attempt, this comprehensive book documents the legacy of Tagore’s Dance, inviting the country’s foremost choreographers and taking stock of how they have been using Tagore.

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