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Toward Acknowledgment

Toward Acknowledgment

Care in Diasporic Performances

(p.3) Chapter One Toward Acknowledgment
Desi Divas
Christine L. Garlough
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter begins the discussion of how performance activists advocate a political commitment to justice and care through their performance art. The chapter opens with the story of Shyamala Moorty, and her 2005 performance of Rise in front of a mainstream and South Asian American community in Madison, Wisconsin. Shyamala begins to tell a story that was not uncommon, especially after the events of 9/11. In fact, incidents of bias, hate crimes, profiling, and discrimination against South Asians showed a record increase. Shyamala’s performance portrays her bicultural ethnicity, her body combining ballet, a traditional Indian dance called Bharatanatyam, and contemporary dance movements. This South Asian American activist’s performance of Rise extends an invitation, then a call for acknowledgement, that begs for more tolerance or simple recognition. Her performance molds together personal testimony and cultural forms in new and inventive ways, in the hope of eliciting a sense of concern, care, and compassion from her audience.

Keywords:   performance activists, Shyamala Moorty, Rise, South Asian American community, bicultural ethnicity, Bharatanatyam, contemporary dance, acknowledgement

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