Care in Diasporic Performances
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