de la Torre Bueno Prize awarded to Indian Modern Dance, Feminism and Transnationalism

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


The de la Torre Bueno Prize® is awarded annually to a book published in the English language that advances the field of dance studies. Named after José Rollin de la Torre Bueno, the first university press editor to develop a list of titles in dance studies, the de la Torre Bueno Prize has recognized scholarly excellence in the field since 1973.

What the Awards Committee said: Prarthana Purkayastha’s eminently readable study traces the emergence of five Indian modern dance-makers whose works between 1900 and 2000 are characterised by experimentation in modernism and politics in response to the Indian subcontinent’s colonial, national and transnational positions throughout the twentieth century. Expanding on established perceptions of Indian dance, these carefully researched five case studies reveal Tagore, Shankar, Bardhan and the Sircars as artists that share Bengali lineage and use Bengali cultural experiences to make dance(s) that reflect upon and embody gendered strategic political moves under British imperial rule and thereafter. Purkayastha draws upon her extensive understanding of the century’s history, her archival documentation, letters, rarely seen photographs, dance film footage, and oral histories to contextualise and analyse the practices, the gendered political counter-praxis to colonial Empire, and the dancing itself in performance and training. In following the creations of five dancers and choreographers from Bengal, this study establishes a genealogy of Modern Indian dance that complicates established narratives of Indian dance. Informed by western/northern hemispheric dance research, feminist theoretical and danced approaches, colonial and post-colonial theory of diasporic Indian dance and dance in India as well as her embodied practice and training, Purkayastha delineates significant webs of interconnections between these artists whose works are in dialogue with the modernity of twentieth-century international dance.

Granting OrganisationsSociety of Dance History Scholars