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Sangam in Conversation: Marginality, Power & Representation

Merindah Donnelly and Priya Srinivasan

13 March 2021
1—4pm AEST

Online via Zoom
Bookings essential


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This discussion will focus on the intersections of rights, representation and power by marginal voices from 3 intersecting perspectives: First Nations artists in Australia, marginal artists in India and South Asian Australian artists who are minorities living on unceded land.

Join us as they explore how power is contested, how voices can be reimagined and bodies re-represented on different sites and lands.

Facilitators: Merindah Donnelly and Priya Srinivasan
Panelists: Marilyn Miller, Yashoda Thakore, Brahma Prakash and Urmimala Sarkar


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Merindah Donnelly is a mother, partner and proud Wiradjuri woman living in Meanjin, Queensland as a guest on Turrbul and Yuggera homelands and is currently Executive Producer BlakDance. Merindah has worked in Market Development at the Australia Council for the Arts and as producer for major Australian Indigenous performance gatherings. Merindah sits on the First Nations advisory group for Australian Performing Arts Market, is part of Global First Nations networks internationally and recently completed a Masters in Cultural Leadership at NIDA. Merindah is also a curator at Brisbane Festival. 

Marilyn Miller  is a director/choreographer of Kukuyalanji/Waanyi heritage who was born in Cairns and spent most of her performance Career in Sydney. As a young professional dancer Marilyn toured extensively with both Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre-the Company and Bangarra. Breaking her foot onstage, at the age of 33, saw her move from performing to gaining a Business Degree, to Arts Management. Fast-track to 2019, back in Cairns, Marilyn has collaborated with fellow dancer Fiona Wirrer-George forming Dark Cheri, exploring different dance genres … think Murri’s meet Motown. Preparing Ground will be Marilyn’s long-awaited opportunity with like-skilled First Nations female dancers. 

Associate Prof. Urmimala Sarkar Munsi, teaches at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She is trained as a dancer/ choreographer at the Uday Shankar India Culture Centre, under Smt. Amala Shankar. Her forthcoming monograph “Uday Shankar and his Transcultural Experiments” is being published by  Palgrave. Her continued work is on Sexual violence and designing of survival processes through tools available in dance. She is a Visiting Faculty for Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Kolkata Sanved’s Certificate Course of Dance and Movement therapy. Her recent project was “Crisis of Democracy and Cultural Trauma” funded by Melon Foundation. 

Dr. Brahma Prakash is an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU, New Delhi. He was a visiting fellow at the CRASSH, Cambridge University, UK (2019-20). He is the author of Cultural Labour: Conceptualising the ‘Folk Performance’ in India (New Delhi: OUP, 2019) and Gaddar: Songs and Memoirs of a Maoist Balladeer (Forthcoming, Westland Publication 2021). Combining art, academic and activism, his works focus on the regional theatre and performance traditions in relation to the questions of marginality, aesthetics and cultural justice. He has been the recipient of the Dwight Conquergood Award of the Performance Studies International and the Charles Wallace India Trust Fellowship of the British Council. 

Carly Sheppard is a cross-disciplinary performance artist and proud Tagalaka, Kurtjar, Wallangamma woman. Carly Sheppard’s work negotiates across dance and theatre performance, sculpture, drawing, voice and installation. Carly’s most significant and recent work Crackers And Dip With Chase And Toey, premiered in 2018 at Arts House, Melbourne.

Priya Srinivasan is the co-Artistic Director of Sangam: Performing Arts Festival of South Asia and Diaspora which enables a single platform for classical, contemporary and experimental forms. She is a choreographer and writer of Tamil origin who lives and works in the lands of the Boon wurrung people in Narrm, combining theory and practice to work towards social justice issues through art. Her experimental postcolonial work rooted in South Asian classical dance practice has been presented in major festivals and venues such as universities, museums, galleries, and theatres internationally. Her intercultural feminist collaborative work with First Nations artists, Churning Waters toured India for Australia Fest. She has curated and choreographed several projects in partnership with Hermitage Museum Amsterdam, Berlin Wall Memorial, Rockbund Art Museum Shanghai, Highways Theatre Los Angeles, Spaces Chennai, Shoonya Bangalore, DCA Darwin, Creative Victoria, MAV, Bunjl Place and Dancehouse.

Yashoda Thakore descends from a long line of Kalavantalu dancers (hereditary women singer / dancer families). She is a renowned performer of Kuchipudi and Devadasi Nrityam and has performed on national and international stages to great acclaim. Yashoda works relentlessly to recover the voices and dances of the Kalavantalu women and to bring the next generation of artists from her community back to singing and dancing, Her main goal is to increase awareness and pride in these art forms. She has a PhD for her research on the Interrelationship Between Yoga and Indian Classical Dances and has authored “Kaivalya-Joy in Yoga and Dance” (2014), co-translated and critically edited “Nritta Ratnavali”, a 13thC text. She was an artist in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania (2019), and performed at the Wesleyan University (2019). Yashoda is a faculty for Kuchipudi at The University of Silicon Andhra, California. She was conferred the Bangalore Nagaratnamma award (2017) by the Samskruti Organisation, Guntur and the Ugadi Puraskaram by the Government of Andhra Pradesh.

Presented in partnership between BlakDance, Rinda Saranya and Sangam. Supported by Ausdance VIC, MAV and Dancehouse.

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