The Blessing of Sexuality
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
Bessie (NYC) and Dora (TO) Award nominee Hari Krishnan is the artistic director of Toronto based company inDANCE and a professor in the department of dance at Wesleyan University (Connecticut). As an award winning dance-maker, Krishnan is frequently commissioned for his avant-garde, subversive and transgressive choreography to create work on soloists and companies around the world. He holds a Master's degree in Dance from York University and is currently completing his PhD in the dance department at Texas Woman’s University. Krishnan's research areas include queering the dancing body, colonialism, post-colonialism and Indian dance, contemporary dance and hybridization, globalization and the arts of India, Bharatanatyam in Tamil cinema and the history of devadasi-courtesan dance traditions in South India. He is a regular contributor to academic conferences and scholarly publications on cultural history and dance.CHARPO: I’d like to start by talking about background and training and where it has taken you. Your dance experience is varied and your work reflects the variety of styles you have gathered along the route. How do you maintain a purity in your choreography that speaks to all audiences and cannot simply be dismissed as “colourful ethnic dance” or “folklore” (and I am thinking, in this case, that the “folk” may be the Gay community)?
My works are about the beauty and ugliness of the dancing body and its soul. Fluid identity, gender, sensuality, sexuality and eroticism affect my work. While being gay is my own personal truth, it is not a political mandate for the genesis of my work.
‘Labels’ and ‘being niched’ are a hindrance. Practically speaking an artist also needs to make a living and if a presenter or curator boxes you in, it is very difficult to undo that damage and access the ‘so-called general/mainstream audience’ which then affects the box office and you don’t get programmed again.
Last year, inDANCE had a bad experience performing in the CanAsian International Dance Festival. The artistic director ‘expected’ my company to stay within the confines of my marginalized ‘ethnic-culture-specific box’ and give her only a ‘traditional’ work (from her ill-informed perspective), because by ‘expecting’ that, she negated her own intention, as is evident from the following quote in her own artistic statement - “CanAsian International Dance Festival…featuring extraordinary dance artists from Canada and around the world…ask you to be open to different aesthetics, to the synthesis of new and ancient, and to a pluralistic array of sources.”
This, despite the fact that CanAsian Dance used most of the ‘contemporary’ dance clips from a previous work of inDANCE’s in their promo for the 2013 CanAsian Dance Festival.
In addition, judging from the audience’s applause on both nights and the great Toronto Star review we got, I think inDANCE cleaned up at the festival!
I strive to make inDANCE speak with an inimitable global voice.
With open arms, we welcome anyone with an open mind.