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Courtesans, Bar Girls and Dancing Boys : Illicit Worlds of Indian Dance
Anna Morcom

Classification : General Non-Fiction
Pub Date : Feb 15, 2014
Imprint : Hachette India
Page Extent : 298
Binding : HB
ISBN : 9789350097922
Price : 595

About the book

Until the 1930s no woman could perform in public and retain respectability in India. Professional female performers were courtesans and dancing girls who lived beyond the confines of marriage, but were often powerful figures in social and cultural life. Women's roles were often also taken by boys and men, some of whom were simply female impersonators, others transgender.

Since the late nineteenth century the status, livelihood and identity of these performers have all diminished, with the result that many of them have become involved in sexual transactions and sexualized performances. Meanwhile, upper-class, upper-caste women have taken control of the classical performing arts and also entered the film industry, while a Bollywood dance and the fitness craze has recently swept middle class India.

In her historical and on-the-ground study, Anna Morcom investigates the emergence of illicit worlds of dance in the shadow of india's official performing arts. She explores over a century of marginilization of courtesans, dancing girls, bar girls and transgender performers, and describes their lives as they struggle with stigmatization, derision and loss of livelihood.


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Anna Morcom
Anna Morcom is Senior Lecturer in the Music Department at Royal Holloway, University of London. She speaks fluent Hindi and Tibetan and has spent many years researching music and dance in India and Ti...(+)
Books by Anna Morcom
Courtesans, Bar Girls & Dancing Boys (PB)