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Music 321: Music of South Asia: Home

Final Project

This guide is intended to serve as a resource for students in Music 321:  Music of South Asia as you write a 250 word abstract for a research paper.


Writing an Abstract Exercise

Queering My Mudra: An Exploration on the Role of  Bharatanatyam in the Activism of an Indian Queer Group 

Mōtiō: Postgraduate Journal for Dance Practice and Research, 1, pp.16–31

Sara Azzarelli 

Abstract: The Supreme Court of India has recently re-enforced Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a colonial set of laws that criticise any kind of sexual acts that do not fit into the mainstream heteronormative system. Thus, in contemporary India, homosexuality and other types of ‘inverted behaviours’ in relation to gender and sexuality are currently considered as immoral, illicit, against the order of nature. This essay explores how the Indian classical dance form Bharatanatyam, and particularly its narrative component (the abhinaya), can be involved in the process of performing non-normative behaviour in order to legitimate it. In particular it investigates the work of a group of LGBT artists based in Bangalore, called Queer Art Movement, active since 2013 organising ‘queer performances’ between Bangalore and Chennai (Southern India). Bharatanatyam, as a narrative form in which dancers are allowed to move between gender boundaries and as a classical dance style culturally recognised, becomes for this group a space of political agency. They use it as a powerful tool to show the Indian population that any gender or sexual behaviour, even the norm, is culturally performed and that the non-normative is an alternative, legitimate possibility.  

Keywords: Bharatanatyam, gender, queerness, activism 

Author Information: Choreomundus: International Master in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage  
Citation: Azzarelli, S. (2015) Queering My Mudra: an exploration on the role of Bharatanatyam in the activism of an Indian queer group.

Mōtiō: Postgraduate Journal for Dance Practice and Research, 1, pp.16–31. Available at 

Liaison Librarian Information

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Angela Weaver
Collins Library 131