Out of the Shadows, A Colored Solidarity
Artistic Director Anjal Chande debuted new work at CrossLines: A Culture Lab on Intersectionality (May 28-29, 2016), a creative convening of art installations, performances and dialogues presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center at the historic Arts and Industries Building.
Informed by the comprehensive research of historian Nico Slate, Chande created a contemporary bharatanatyam dance about the unsung activists who forged a remarkable, transnational unity between oppressed communities of color. The work highlighted Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, whose inclusive activism exemplified the cross-pollination between India’s independence movement and America’s civil rights movement from the late nineteenth century to the 1960s.
Chande wrote and composed the piece’s original text and score and combined her classical dance training with her multicultural upbringing to reveal both conceptual and aesthestic intersections in this new piece. The unique creative process behind the artist’s work underscored the piece’s subversive message.
Anjal Chande is an Indian-American choreographer, composer, writer, and performer who boldly innovates and introspects through multidisciplinary dance. Described by The New York Times as a “gifted stylist” and by Time Out Chicago as “arrestingly poetic” and “breaking out of the box of ethnic dance,” Chande is paving new pathways as a contemporary bharatanatyam artist. Driven by an appreciation for self-reliance, Chande takes a do-it-yourself approach to dancemaking. She writes her own contemplative prose and composes genre-evading music, combining these elements with highly emotive, athletic dancing.
Nico Slate is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of History whose research and teaching focus on the history of social movements in the United States and India. His first book, Colored Cosmopolitanism: The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the United States and India, argues that South Asians and African Americans learned from each other in ways that advanced their struggles for freedom. He is the founder and director of the Bajaj Rural Development Lab, the Social Change Semester, and SocialChange101.org, and is a regular contributor to the Arts Greenhouse, a hip hop education program that promotes the artistic and educational development of Pittsburgh teenagers.
The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center promotes the appreciation, inclusion, and understanding of Asian Pacific American history, art, and culture through exhibitions, collections, research, and public programs. Established in 1997, the Center works in partnership with museums, galleries, and centers throughout the Smithsonian, across the country, and around the world. Through partnerships, technology, curation, and creative thinking, the Center creates audacious experiences where inquiry, dialogue, self-discovery and learning can happen collectively in-person and online, guided by the knowledge of storytellers, and enriched by interaction with the powerful ideas expressed in Asian Pacific American history, art and culture.