I by Debapriya Das

The male gaze” is a central concept within feminist theories. Laura Mulvey, the influential feminist, was among the first to talk about male gaze in cinema and its oppressive nature. Mulvey defines the male gaze as a product of patriarchal structures prevalent in the society which depicts women from a masculine point of view. Mulvey’s article was based on cinema but this can be extended to real world and how different is the performance world from the real? Performing arts provide an ideal scenario for voyeuristic pleasures, our bodies as performers are endlessly displayed to gratify the desire of the spectator. At some point, do we internalise this or do we adapt ourselves towards it? Belly Dance in popular culture is viewed as an erotic and seductive art form. What started as a celebratory traditional dance is perceived to be a titillating form seen with an unadulterated male gaze. Laden with stereotypes relating to erotism, sexuality & viewed from the male perspective of the harem culture, veil repression and cultural backwardness it is interesting to note that belly dance is also correlated with greater confidence, body acceptance, self-esteem & freedom for most of its practitioners. Belly dance sets out an example of how positive changes in the social construct helps in changing the social imagery of women to themselves and to others. My primary intention with I is to bring out the dichotomy of this dance style & use belly dance to perhaps re-envision thegaze.

Venue: Open-air Space, Rabindra Tirtha
Date: 20th December
Time: 16:00 - 16:30 hrs (IST)

About the Performer:
Debapriya is a Bangalore-based belly dance artist. Trained extensively in Middle Eastern traditional and classical dances, she runs a belly dance school and performance house called Nrityakosh. Founded in 2017, Nrityakosh has done several productions and has trained close to 1000 students across India in Middle Eastern dances and their fusion formats. Her vision for the company has been to present the art of belly dance to the contemporary Indian audience, make it relatable while staying true to the spirit of the dance. Debapriya's training in belly dance started in 2012. By 2014, she started travelling extensively to deepen her understanding of the dance and its traditions. Between 2016-2018, Debapriya studied with Rachel Brice and obtained the practitioner certificate of the 8 Elements™ multi-phase belly dance training.