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The Music RoadCoherence and Diversity in Music from the Mediterranean to India$
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Reinhard Strohm

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266564

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266564.001.0001

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The ‘Nautch’, the Veil and the Bayadère: The Indian Dance as Musical Nexus

The ‘Nautch’, the Veil and the Bayadère: The Indian Dance as Musical Nexus

(p.213) 11 The ‘Nautch’, the Veil and the Bayadère: The Indian Dance as Musical Nexus
The Music Road

Margaret E. Walker

British Academy

During the early period of mercantile contact with India, the exotic spectacle of the Bayadères or Nautch Girls seized the imagination of western sojourners and inspired an abundance of artistic production back in Europe. The ‘dancing girl’ is found everywhere in late 18th- and 19th-century orientalist paintings, poetry, novels, and of course, ballets, operas and other musical compositions. Although there are substantial studies exploring musical orientalisms in western art music, little attention has been paid to the role of real-life performances in such musical creation. This chapter explores the influence of the colonial interaction with Indian dance performances over the long 19th century. It argues not only for a nuanced and historicised approach to musical encounter but also, given the centrality of the Nautch in the Indian context, for the crucial inclusion of dance in the global history of music.

Keywords:   India, Nautch, dance, colonialism, ballet, Hindustani airs

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