The Carolyn Benton Cockefair Chair continues to play an influential role in the cultural and intellectual life at UMKC and in the Kansas City community.

The Cockefair Chair continues its 60-year tradition of presenting fascinating lectures. Lectures are announced as soon as arrangements are final. Please check this website and subscribe to our contact list so that you are sure to receive the most current lecture information.

In Love and War

Critical Representations of Bharatanāṭyam Dance Today


Sponsor: Carolyn Benton Cockefair Chair
Date: Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Time: 6:00pm-8:00pm
Location: Pierson Auditorium, UMKC Atterbury Student Success Center, 5000 Holmes St., Kansas City, MO 64110, (UMKC Campus)
Parking is free on levels 5 & 6 of the Cherry Street Garage.


Register here
Photo design: John Elmore

Subverting popular representations of Indian dance, choreographer/scholar Hari Krishnan along with dancers Annie Kidwell and Maren Westgard and renowned vocalist/Wesleyan University music professor B. Balasubrahmaniyan and percussionist Fugan Dineen, discuss and perform multiple engagements with the dynamic, complex histories, and aesthetic representations of Bharatanāṭyam dance, which continue to circulate in ever-expanding global directions.

The presentation begins with Krishnan’s lecture, where he introduces the complex histories of Bharatanāṭyam, based on his 2019 book Celluloid Classicism: Early Tamil Cinema and the Making of Modern Bharatanātyam, where he discusses the entangled emergence of two art forms (Tamil Cinema and Bharatanāṭyam), addressing key questions around the fluid and reciprocal exchange of knowledge between screen and stage versions of Bharatanāṭyam in the early decades of the twentieth century.

The presentation concludes with the artists performing the richness of historical and contemporary Bharatanāṭyam dance to live music. The performance weaves together Krishnan’s multiple personas as an artist and scholar working across several historical and aesthetic frameworks.

Cast Biographies

Hari Krishnan is a dancer, choreographer, scholar, and educator who specializes in Bharatanātyam, Queer Dance, Contemporary Dance from Global Perspectives. He is Chair and Professor in the Department of Dance and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and is also the artistic director of Toronto-based dance company inDANCE. His monograph, Celluloid Classicism: Early Tamil Cinema and the Making of Modern Bharatanatyam (Wesleyan University Press, 2019) won a special citation from the 2020 de la Torre Bueno© First Book Award Committee of the Dance Studies Association. The book has been hailed as “an invaluable addition to the scholarship on Bharatanatyam.

Annie Kidwell is a dancemaker from Louisville, Kentucky who recently graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in Dance and Art History. She has trained in a variety of styles, including Bharatanatyam, and her dance explorations are at the intersection of improvisation, relationality, and site-responsive work.

Maren Westgard is a dancer, actor, and choreographer based in Connecticut. She recently graduated from Wesleyan with a degree in Dance, Psychology, and Education Studies, training in various dance styles including Bharatanatyam for the last 4 years. Her choreographic research focuses on screendance, micro-choreography, and choreographing emotion. @marenwestgard

B. Balasubrahmaniyan (also known as Balu) is a South Indian Karnatak vocalist, teacher, and researcher. He studied with T. Brinda and T. Viswanathan, the finest musicians, and grandchildren of Veena Dhanammal. Balu is an Adjunct Associate Professor of music at Wesleyan University.

Fugan Dineen is a drummer, percussionist, and composer with wide ranging musical expertise. He holds a PhD in ethnomusicology (Wesleyan University) and teaches academic and studio courses at Boston College, Wesleyan, and Yale University. Fugan has recorded and toured with musicians in the US, South America, Europe, and West Africa. He also works extensively with dancers and dance companies specializing in Modern, Indian, and African styles.

Free Master Dance Class
Introduction to Bharatanātyam Technique by Hari Krishnan
Thursday, June 2, 2022
Studio 103, James C. Olson Performing Arts Center
4949 Cherry St., 64110
Metered parking is available on level 5 of the Cherry Street Garage.
No reservation required

Past Lectures

In the past few years, our audiences have heard famous historians, experts on climate change and foreign policy, renowned authors, educators and others who examine contemporary life. More outstanding lectures are coming from the Cockefair Chair.

Recent lecturers include authors Adam Gopnik, Andrew Kaplan, Ben Lerner and Meg Wolitzer, experts on climate change Diana Liverman and Bill McKibben, artist Carrie Mae Weems, former Ambassador Michael McFaul, educators Sarah Lewis and Sarah Marty, historian Andrew Bacevich, former Press Secretary to the President Josh Earnest, founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson