Imagine Otherwise: Anusha Kedhar on the Limits of Flexibility

Oct 15, 2020 | Podcast

The dance world and academia are two creative industries known for innovative thinking and vibrant collaborations. But they also share a sustainability problem, as burnout and exhaustion are par for the course and the vast majority of jobs are temporary and precarious.

Today’s guest—dancer, scholar, and choreographer Anusha Kedhar—suggests that the increasing demand for more and more flexibility is at the root of such unsustainable relations. The global pandemic has made this even more apparent, as the work/life shifts we’re all experiencing are compounded by historical racial and gender regimes shaping whose flexibility is required to keep everything going.

In episode 120 of Imagine Otherwise, I interview Anusha Kedhar about the limits of flexible labor regimes in the dance world and higher education, the methodological ethics and challenges of being part of groups you’re also writing about, sustainability lessons from dance that can help improve academic life, and why building a world around the needs and desires of marginalized groups is how Anusha imagines otherwise.

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You can also read the transcript and show notes on the Ideas on Fire website, which have links to Anusha’s work and all the concepts, people, and events we discuss on the show (great for teaching!).

Guest: Anusha Kedhar

Scholar, dancer, and choreographer Anusha Kedhar is an assistant professor of critical dance studies at the University of California, Riverside. Her research focuses on dance, race, labor, and political economy. 

Her new book, Flexible Bodies: British South Asian Dancers in an Age of Neoliberalism (Oxford University Press, 2020), examines the work of contemporary South Asian dancers in the UK at the nexus of neoliberal and postcolonial cultural politics. Bringing together economic theories of flexible labor with dance-based notions of flexibility as an embodied practice, Anusha argues that flexibility is both a tool of labor exploitation and a bodily tactic that dancers use to navigate global dance markets.

Anusha is currently working on a new project on yoga in India and the Indian diaspora. Her essays have appeared in Dance Research Journal, the Feminist Wire, and the New York Times.

She has also collaborated and toured with various dance companies and choreographers in the US, UK, and Europe. Her solo choreography has been presented in London, Malta, Los Angeles, Colorado, and New York.

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