Courtyard Dancers is a nonprofit community-centered arts organization (with branches in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Kolkata) interested in developing the art of Kathak Dance as cultural literacy and empowerment. It is a collective of a vibrant and diverse group of professionals and students for whom dancing is a form of civic engagement to connect to the traditional arts of India but within contemporary aesthetics and progressive politics.
The company aims for artistic excellence by adhering to the precision and rigor of classical Indian dances but with a critical understanding of their exclusionary politics. Courtyard Dancers is especially interested in working with the poetic forms in Kathak such as ghazal, thumri, and qawwali for exploring emotional landscapes of love, justice, humanism and hope.
Pallabi Chakravorty, Kathak dancer, choreographer, and anthropologist founded Courtyard Dancers in Philadelphia to make dance works that express a postcolonial modernist voice. Her choreographies are based on historical and contemporary events in India, such as partition (Asunder), the anti-nautch movement (Silencing the Nautch), globalization/migration (Unsung Arrivals), and communal violence (The Mahatma is Fasting), among others. She has received grants from Dance Advance Pew, Leeway foundation, and the Rocky’s dance award by Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe. Pallabi is the Director of Dance at Swarthmore College in the Department of Music and Dance where she has been building a Kathak program.