Distinguished Lecture by Dr. Davesh Soneji and Dr. Yashoda Thakore

Dr. Davesh Soneji, University of Pennsylvania, USA and Dr. Yashoda Thakore, University of Silicon Andhra, USA delivered a Distinguished Lecture on “The Intertwined Worlds of Social History and Performance: Kalāvanthulu Dance” at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) on 15th February 2019.


This talk focused on the intertwined worlds of social history and dance performance in the Telugu-speaking kalāvantula-courtesan community of South India. The presentation featured the archival material about the community, and also the live performance of courtly dance and music repertoire by Dr. Yashoda Thakore, herself a member of this community. The presentation considered how cultural nationalism, caste politics, and other forces have a major role to play in what is called “devadasi reform” and that women and their own voices were largely left outside this debate. The idea of classical has been debated in the lecture as a contested concept.


By bringing dance performance into dialogue with archival history, this presentation offered a reading of this community that does not separate art from artist. It also offered deliberations on ethically sound and viable ways of representing women’s art from this community in today’s world.


The Lecture was presided over by Prof. P Venkata Rao, Dean, School of Social Sciences. Prof. Sheela Prasad, Head, Centre for Regional Studies (CRS) introduced Dr. Yashoda while Prof. B. Ananthakrishnan, Director, Study in India Program (SIP) introduced Dr. Davesh. Dr. Aravind Susarla faculty from CRS gave the words of thanks.

The lecture was attended by students, faculty, staff and guests from the city.