Crafting fidelity: Pedagogical creativity in kathak dance

Monica Dalidowicz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Through a phenomenological account of apprenticeship in the North Indian dance form of kathak, I show how skills are adapted and changed through the ingenuity and innovation required in teaching to new generations of students. The traditional pedagogical model for learning in the Indian arts, the guru-shishya parampara (master-disciple relationship), has historically been based on imitative and repetitive pedagogies. Yet close examination reveals less conspicuous forms of creativity at work in the process of reproducing the tradition with fidelity; this improvisational work is further heightened in the demands of teaching in the diaspora. As teachers create opportunities for experiential learning, a spectrum of pedagogical tactics, scaffolding strategies, and coaching competencies are developed and accumulate as this tradition is passed on from one generation to the next. The pedagogical work in crafting fidelity can, in fact, produce its own kind of knowledge, which, ironically, can add new elements to the tradition in unexpected ways. In one unique case - the example of 'kathak yoga' - the pedagogical adaptations of kathak artist Pandit Chitresh Das elicited a creative response, a new scaffolding technique that would eventually be incorporated into the repertoire as a skill in itself. Pedagogical process, in this sense, was creative process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)838-854
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


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