Chaki Sircar, Manjusri (1934–2000) and Sircar, Ranjabati (1963–1999) By Purkayastha, Prarthana
In early 1980s, Manjusri Chaki Sircar and her daughter, Ranjabati Sircar, coined the term Navanritya or New Dance for their methodology of dance training and choreography. The Sircars’ New Dance emerged from the Bengal region of India in a period that simultaneously witnessed a nationwide upsurge of women’s rights movements and the rise of right-wing antifeminist politics. Energized by the feminist movement, the Sircars challenged and critiqued patriarchal frameworks governing the production of dance for the modern Indian stage. They questioned, both through their dancing bodies as well as through their published work, existing conventions of dance performance such as the stereotypical representation of women in performance. They presented highly innovative and subversive dance works that provided fresh, startling, and contemporary interpretations of available literary sources and inherited dance-drama traditions.