Manifesto 2.2 (2011)

Post Natyam Collective Manifesto 2.2

Yes to process.
Yes to complexity.
Yes to hybridity.
Yes to being rooted in the local and rocking the global.
Yes to interrogating our legacies.
Yes to queering.
Yes to sustainability.
Yes to praxis.
Yes to challenging aesthetic hegemonies.
Yes to resisting market ideology.
Yes to combating exoticism orientalism colonialism racism sexism classism casteism communalism.
No to identity politics.

SHY: Wait a minute! What do we mean by identity politics? I have made work in the past about my identity and certainly don’t wish to erase acknowledging my identity in future work.
ANJ: Much like Shy, I feel I have grappled with this in past work and that we all incorporate the autobiographical into our own work.
SHY: I just hope we’re not saying no to identification at all?
CYN: Well, my discomfort with identity politics is how it often requires a flattening of our complexities — to be only Taiwanese, or only a feminist, or only a kathak dancer – in order to achieve solidarity.
CYN and BABLI: And what brings the four of us together is not a shared identity but a shared interest in critically and creatively expanding South Asian performance tradition.
BABLI: So, broken down it might be: we don’t say NO to identity, autobiography, and community – but we say YES to going beyond the politics of self-interest groups and enforcing borders around identitarian constructions.
CYN: Exactly.

Yes to radical dis/agreement.
Yes to coalition. [1]

Yes to consensual collaboration.

CYN: Be generous. Be a thief. Encourage each other to borrow, steal, appropriate, translate.
Do so fearlessly rather than tiptoeing on eggshells. Trust each other as artists and human beings.

Yes to trust.
Yes to honesty.
Yes to respect.
Yes to process without product.
Yes to an online collective process from which we each craft individual products.

BABLI: Create a virtual treasure-box of materials and approaches that circulates to reveal multiple facets of a shared topic.
CYN: As we translate each other, ideas manifest multiply as dance films, scholarly writing, live performance, artbooks, lecture-demonstrations, installations, workshops...

Yes to creative recycling and reusing.
Yes to open-source.

BABLI: But wait, exactly what are we saying yes to? Do we understand the implications of it? And will we really be ok with anyone just taking our work and remixing it without telling us?
SHY: I meant open-source methodology, not open-source choreography.
CYN: You know, I think we’re open-source within the collective, but not necessarily with the outside world. The term connotes creative commons, decentralization of authorship, invitation for re-appropriation, and crowd-sourcing – which do resonate with our creative process.
BABLI: After all, we do make our choreographic assignments, process, and in-progress drafts available online at no cost for the public.
CYN: It’s like they have access to the source code and blueprints…
BABLI: …but not always the final products (if there even are any).

Yes to giving credit.
Yes to supportive feedback.
Yes to multiple voices, multiple aesthetics, multiple authors.

CYN: If you need to create unity, coherence, a singular clarity, then make that work on your own, and we’ll give feedback.

Yes to multiplying energy.

ANJ: A creative toss of ideas. Listening, processing, filtering, feeding, and vocalizing in constant dialogue to sustain and feed our sense of community.

Yes to collectively building infrastructure.
Yes to intelligent divisions of administrative labor.

BABLI: Sharing responsibility instead of multiplying work. Freeing up time and energy for creativity.

Yes to responsibility.
Yes to healthy, balanced lives.
Yes to shared decision making. Yes to moving forward.

SHY: If you aren’t present, you can’t be heard. If you don’t communicate or contribute, you can’t expect to be included.

No to divas.
Seriously, no to divas.

ANJ: But when the shit hits the fan, we can all turn into divas. There is one living in each of us…she comes out under pressure. I’ve seen her.

Yes to the widest possible definition of dance.
Yes to “natyam” as a multiple-faceted performing art. [2]
Yes to “post.”

CYN: I do resonate with postmodern dance’s valuing of the pedestrian body, of the interdisciplinary, of art-as-everyday-life…as well as its critique of the mainstream.
BABLI: To me “post” resonates in the first place with inquiries that address post-colonialities. I do draw from post-structuralist thinkers. I do not really resonate with postmodern dance as a “genre” (though I like to play with some of the aspects you mentioned, Cynthia).
SHY: From my out-”post”, I send messages through the cyber-”post,” decentralizing and multiplying, layering and creating dialogue through art, and art through dialogue.
ANJ: Post is the invention and creativity that develops and takes flight from the roots
Post happens after the solid foundation has been established
Post is the subversive
Post is engaging in the present informed by what has come before
Post followed by Natyam is the infinite possibilities that open up after years and years of training in a traditional South Asian dance form
Post is the ability to think outside the box
Post is the meeting of modernity and tradition
Post allows for creation across genres, traditions, and communities
Post is cool
Post is open to learning
Post is not afraid
Post is experimental
Post is anything is possible

Yes to honoring, challenging, and extending our multiple traditions.
Yes to each other.
Yes to Post Natyam.

[1] In “Cartographies of Struggle: Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism,” Chandra Talpade Mohanty utilizes Benedict Anderson’s notion of an “imagined community” to think of communities of women apart from essentialized notions of race, class and gender, but as “political links we choose to make among and between struggles” (Mohanty 2003, 46). Mohanty emphasizes a coalition between women of color in the following way: a “viable oppositional alliance is a common context of struggle rather than color or racial identifications” (49).
[2] “Natya” or “natyam” is a Sanskrit word that refers to the inseparable conjunction of drama, dance, and music in Indian performance tradition. In contemporary times, this concept could also include film and multimedia.