BA (Wesleyan University 1990) Anthropology and Dance
MA (University of California, Berkeley 1995) South Asian Studies
PhD (University of California Riverside 2001) Dance History and Theory
Before joining World Arts and Cultures at UCLA, I was Reader in Dance Studies at Middlesex University and Lecturer in Dance Studies at the University of Surrey, UK. My book "At Home in the World: Bharata Natyam on the Global Stage" (Wesleyan University Press 2007) received the Association for Asian Studies First Book Subvention Award (2007). My research has been supported by the American Institute of Indian Studies, the British Academy, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
Since 1989, I have studied and performed the classical Indian dance form bharata natyam while simultaneously pursuing it as a subject of scholarly inquiry. My book (2007) and related publications (1998, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008) investigate the twentieth-century history of bharata natyam, considering transformations in choreography, presentation, and pedagogy as they intersect with large-scale social, political, and economic concerns. I rely on ethnography, cultural history, postcolonial, transnational, and gender studies. Having conducted research on bharata natyam in India, Sri Lanka, Britain, Canada, and the United States, I situate the dance practice in a global context. I consider changes in the dance form through the concerns of tradition and innovation, nationalism and regionalism, gendered reform and revival movements, and globalism and local identity. I argue that these debates encouraged the emergence of bharata natyam on the international concert stage and continue to influence choreographic decisions made today.
My present research investigates the promotion and programming of dance festivals. I examine such events through issues of transnational migration, the global circulation of dance practices, and the political economy of heritage industries. I am interested in the interconnections between anthropology and cultural tourism, particularly in their shared histories and the intersections in their modes of viewing. As such, I consider how festivals form part of an anthropological legacy and participate in anthropological history. This project relies on theories of collection, tourism, diaspora, and ‘museumization,’ drawing on research into festivals in other fields, such as theatre and music studies, to consider the identities that dance festivals rely upon and produce.
At UCLA, I teach a variety of both undergraduate and graduate courses. My undergraduate teaching fields include Modern and Postmodern Dance History, World Dance Histories, South Asian Dance Histories, and Dance and Film. Graduate teaching includes The Body and Theories of Performance. I can supervise graduate theses and dissertations in a range of fields including postcolonial studies, gender studies, festival and museum studies, economic analyses of dance, popular culture, diaspora studies, and South Asian dance studies.