New show features Mohan Khokar's Dance Collection
As a tribute to a pioneer of Hindustani dance forms, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) is hosting an eight-day exhibition titled “A Century of Indian Dance - 1901-2000: The Mohan Khokar Dance Collection” at India Habitat Centre here beginning this Sunday.
For the first time, art lovers will get to see the history of dance documented by the extraordinary dance scholar and collector Mohan Khokar. The exhibition acknowledges the contributions of Khokar (1924-1999) in documenting Indian dance.
Khokar, who mastered Bharatanatyam at Kalakshetra in Chennai and Kathak and the Uday Shankar style in Lahore, wrote extensively on dance for magazines, journals and newspapers. As he was his own photographer, he illustrated articles and books with pictures too.
In his lifetime, Khokar shot over 200,000 photographs, collected 50,000 brochures, 25,000 press-clips, and saved priceless manuscripts and books.
He wrote five definitive books and thousands of articles on dance and syllabi for universities. He mentored numerous dancers, researchers and scholars, and resuscitated certain dance-forms.
A reference point for all major milestones and trends in the world of Indian dance in the last century, the exhibition covers all types of dances - classical, contemporary, ritual and folk besides films through photographs, objects, books, posters, handbills, postage stamps and gramophone records.
“The archival material had been in the custody of Mohan Khokar's son Ashish Khokar, who has inherited his father's extraordinary legacy. When the ICCR came to know that he had in his possession costumes and archival material, I discussed with him plans to do something to showcase his father's collection. Famous dancers gave Mohan Khokar jewellery, mementos and costumes. This exhibition will travel to the US, France, Britain and Germany,” says ICCR Director-General Suresh K. Goel, who will also release a 200-page catalogue full of historic and educational material.
Recognised as a rare treasure, the Mohan Khokar Dance Collection has been hailed as India's single largest dance holding by the Lincoln Centre, New York, The Dance Museum, Stockholm, and UNESCO's Dance Council, Paris.
Painstakingly built before India became independent or any national institutions were born, the collection is extraordinary as far as content is concerned.
It has first prospectuses of leading dance institutions, handbills, posters, press-clips dating from the 1900s onward, letters, memorabilia, books and Ph.D. theses sourced from their writers.
Then there are paintings, sketches and Chola bronzes along with representations of dance in everyday life - textiles, firecrackers, stamps, matchboxes - making it a living festival and celebration of Indian dance.
ICCR President Karan Singh will inaugurate the exhibition by unlocking a rare Nataraja lock in the Nataraja Gallery at IHC this Sunday.
Violin maestro L. Subramaniam and Kavita Krishnamurthy have done the music score for ace designer A. Z. Ranjit's exhibition.
The exhibition will run up to July 24.