Brunel Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series

Event Details

Brunel Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series

Time: March 1, 2017 from 4pm to 6pm
Location: Brunel Drama Studio
Street: Cleveland Rd
City/Town: London. UB8 3PH
Website or Map:…
Phone: +44 (0)1895 267 343
Event Type: seminar
Organized By: Johannes Birringer
Latest Activity: Feb 28, 2017

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Event Description


Anusha Kedhar  (Colorado College)


“Breaking Point: Flexibility, Risk, Pain, andPrecarity in the Work of Shobana Jeyasingh”

Performance Research Seminar (Brunel University), Wednesday March 1, 2017.

Due to its seemingly banal, normalized, and sometimes even celebrated existence in the dance industry, pain and injury is an under theorized area in dance studies scholarship. In this paper,  Dr Kedhar analyzes pain and injury not from a physiological or psychological perspective but as an embodied condition of neoliberal multiculturalism. Focusing on the labor of South Asian dancers in the work of Shobana Jeyasingh, she shows how pain and injury are induced not just through neoliberal working conditions in the studio but also through multicultural expectations for assimilation and legibility outside of it. Dancers’ bodies, however, are not merely inscribed by racial and economic ideologies. South Asian dancers use choreographic tools and other bodily tactics to gain creative control over their bodily labor and continue to circulate within a competitive British dance economy in ways that are safe and pleasurable.


Drawing on anthropologist Talal Asad’s notion of “pain as action,” Kedhar shows how British South Asian dancers intentionally and strategically respond to labor demands for risk and flexibility through small, seemingly insignificant corporeal choices, including endurance, refusal, re-direction, and care. She  argues that paying attention to the body in pain reveals dancers’ ability to both submit to and struggle against the pressures of neoliberal multiculturalism. In this way, British South Asian dancers offer an important case study for understanding bodily labor and re-thinking conventional notions of agency under neoliberalism.


Anusha Kedhar is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Colorado College, and currently a Visiting Scholar at Brunel University. Her current book project examines British South Asian dancers in the late 20th and early 21st century and the creative ways in which these dancers negotiate precarious racial, economic, and national identity positions through flexible bodily tactics. Her scholarly writing has been published by Dance Research Journal, The Feminist Wire, and The New York Times. Kedhar is also an established artist and choreographer, and has worked with various contemporary South Asian choreographers in the US and Europe, including Subathra Subramaniam (London), Mayuri Boonham (London), Mavin Khoo (London/Malta), Johanna Devi (Berlin), Cynthia Ling Lee (Los Angeles), and Meena Murugesan (Los Angeles). 

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