After a thumping start last week at HABITAT WORLD, the Khokar Dance Archives presents A century of Indian dance , covering a 100 plus years. Centuries begin by one and end in zero, hence the period platformed is 1901 – 2000. ‘This is when pioneers from West came to India at turn of last century, to rekindle interest in our dances, long submerged under a 300 year colonial subjugation” analyses renowned dance historian, critic, archivist, author of over 45 books or Indian arts and spirituality, Prof Ashish Khokar, its creator and curator. “When I studied Indian history at BVB school then, St. Stephens and Hindu colleges at Delhi University, I didn’t know I’d use it not for an IAS exam but for becoming India’s only trained dance historian!” quips Khokar jr. now 61.
The film actually opens with 1891. With a rare document found in Egmore library, Chennai, which shows how many dancers lived then in Madras (presidency). Today, with internet, one cannot tell that! So much for archiving and record keeping. “technology is a tool; content has to come from humans” avers Ashish Khokar, who is not even on social media and still a popular and much respected name in dance writing, archiving and documentation, today.
Over 100 dancers, gurus , stars, from black and white era to technicolour to digital times feature in this 20 minute film. “These films are actually my lecture tools I use when I visit universities. Dance is a visual art, no point mere talking about it, without showing proof and practice of this fine visual art. “says Khokar, who had compiled several such short films in last decade based on Mohan Khokar Dance Collection. HABITAT world of art, culture and entertainment got lucky they got a rare man and material for 9 weeks 9 films showings. In pandemic times, when established institutions can’t muster meaningful programs, HABITAT had above 400 views in one day! Watch these on YouTube channel of HABITAT.