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The Parting Pelvis: Temporality, Sexuality, and Indian Womanhood in Chandralekha's Sharira (2001)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2014


This article examines the late Indian choreographer Chandralekha's final work Sharira (2001), an intense duet between a woman and a man, as a challenge to heteronormative codes that govern the performance of Indian sexuality. This challenge is relayed in two ways: first, through a haunting triangle motif of the yoni (vagina in Sanskrit), that is evoked repeatedly through the controlled parting of the female dancer's legs, reminding us that her body is both a harbinger of life and a center of sexual agency. Second, the piece critiques heteronormativity through an über-slowing down of choreographic time, which emphasizes the materiality of the female body and the extremes it can execute. The article proposes that these two choreographic strategies are efficacious in rewriting heteronormative codes surrounding Indian sexuality only because they work interdependently. It is only because the female performer is able to part her legs in hyper-slow-motion that the evocations of her yoni move beyond the realm of an objectified, sexual body part that is to be occupied and consumed by a male partner. Instead it becomes a powerful emblem of her ability to contain and spawn sexual desire as well as to create, sustain, and give birth to life.

Copyright © Congress on Research in Dance 2014 

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