A dancer looks back: Sharon Lowen's 45 years in India
The resurgence and awareness of classical dance traditions of India in the second half of the 20th century brought legendary artists and rare dance genres to public attention. To showcase such legendary dancers and rare performances from the 1970's and '80s – captured in Delhi, Kolkata, Konark, Kerela, Mumbai, Imphal, Seraikella and Baripada, a photographic exhibition titled 'A Dancer Looks Back: Sharon Lowen's 45 Years in India' will be organised at India Internation Centre (IIC).
Curated by Sanjit Debroy, the art show will be inaugurated on July 25, at 5 pm by Ashok Lavasa, photographer and Election Commissioner of India, and will go on until July 31.
"I have selected 60 historic dance and dance related images from 3000 transparencies taken with my trusty Nikon in the 70's and 80's," says Sharon Lowen, Photographer.
Pointing out towards the rarity of one of her photographs, Sharon Lowen says, "The Manipuri devotional singing, Sankirtan, was transformed into a dance with graceful and powerful body movements while the dancer also plays the large cymbals, Kartal, or the Pung percussion with intricate rhythmic cycles. Of more than one hundred, about forty are still in vogue when performed as part of all ceremonies and religious festivals in Manipur. I was privileged to photograph this living tradition in 1974 and '76 while studying these genres in Imphal, Manipur."
Some of the other photographs show dancers –who have received the highest state honors and international acclaim – creating the intangible cultural heritage of India. While the others capture Chhau, which was virtually unknown outside of the small triangle of Odisha, Bihar, and West Bengal.
"I arrived in India in 1973, armed with a Nikon camera and a year of photography classes at the University of Michigan. My documentation has not been shared before as my career as a performing artist gradually took precedence over returning fulltime to academia," says Sharon
The exhibition is a part of 'Looking Back to Move Forward Festival', which will have performances, seminars, dance workshop, photographic exhibition and a film screening by 30 artists, scholars and educators who have shaped and are shaping classical Indian dance globally.
Organised by Manasa: Art without frontiers in collaboration with IIC and Alliance Francaise, the festival hopes to facilitate the intersections between visual, performing and other art forms, both traditional and contemporary.
'Mohiniattam to contemporary dance workshop', 'Dance of the enchantress film' by Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Brigitte Chataignier are some of the highlights of the festival that looks back to the six videshi kalakar Utsav and Art without frontier seminars held at the IIC in the 1990s which brought together national and international art scholars and writers, gurus and performers.