Beyond Bollywood Dance Series: Queering Dance Traditions
In person at the museum
Celebrate Pride Month with innovative and progressive performers who use ancient dance styles to create new works highlighting LGBTQ+ characters and perspectives.
In celebration of Pride Month and our local LGBTQ+ community, we feature performers of Indian and Cambodian dance traditions who challenge assumptions about gender roles in dance and recontextualize traditional dances for the 21st century. Gender fluidity is an age-old concept: in Buddhist texts, bodhisattvas transcend gender distinctions; depictions of Asian deities are often androgynous; and on the stage, performers in many Asian traditions play both genders.
Prumsodun Ok, founder of Cambodia’s first gay dance company, considers the inherent queerness in the sacred art of Khmer dance. His work revitalizes and brings global attention to an art form that was nearly wiped out with the majority of its practitioners in the Khmer Rouge genocide of the late 1970s.
If ancient South Asian statues came to life, how would they express the queer stories that seem to exist in these cultures? Ishami Dance Company explores this idea, celebrating the marginalized stories of those who were once part of a precolonial mainstream.
ABOUT THE PERFORMERS
Ishami Dance Company was created by Amit Patel and Ishika Seth to explore limitless creative possibilities through the medium of South Asian contemporary dance. Their vision is to create works that tread the line between traditional and modern, dismantling social constructs to amplify marginalized voices and stories. They value inclusivity and cultural exchange, encouraging artists to cultivate individuality and intentionality while crossing cultural boundaries to share stories and spark conversation.
Born to Khmer refugees in the United States, Prumsodun Ok rose from the poverty and violence-stricken inner city of Long Beach to become the new face of Khmer dance. He uses art to heal, illuminate, and empower, reviving the spirit of his people from the enduring forces of conflict. A champion of Khmer culture, he is the founding artistic director of Prumsodun Ok & NATYARASA, Cambodia’s first gay dance company, which Channel NewsAsia describes as “one of the most revolutionary dance troupes in Cambodia… a dance troupe like no other.” He currently lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, working at the intersection of cultural preservation, artistic innovation, education, LGBTQ advocacy, and environmental stewardship.
Thursday Nights are supported by Wells Fargo.