Hari Krishnan is a dancer, choreographer, scholar, and professor who specializes in Bharatanatyam and post-colonial, queer dance and film studies. Born in Singapore to Indian parents, Krishnan trained with hereditary courtesan teachers in South India who were the original repositories of Bharatanatyam. In 1991 he moved to Canada. He founded inDANCE in 1999 for which he is artistic director. Krishnan has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Winnipeg, a Master of Fine Arts from York University, and a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. He is currently an Associate Professor of Dance in the Department of Dance and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Krishnan’s choreography explores post-colonial complexities in Indian dance and queer themes, as well as the intersection of traditional South Asian and global contemporary dance forms. His extensive body of work is based on critical perspectives on Bharatanatyam, fused with contemporary global dance styles and postmodern social critique. His pieces are bombastic, boldly confronting political and sociological issues. Works such as Holy Cow(s)! (2017) – spawned when, while eating lunch together, someone expressed surprise that Krishnan was eating a beef burger – are designed to challenge stereotypes and reclaim control over narratives of sexuality, religion, and culture in a Western-dominated global arts world.
inDANCE does not only exhibit Krishnan’s work. He frequently collaborates with and mounts productions from an expanding roster of similarly experimental artists. On top of its innovative original repertoire, inDANCE is also known for its critical reconstructions of Indian dances and techniques from the 18th and early 20th centuries. These representations are rarely seen on global stages today. inDANCE remounts and recreates them through extensive research. The goal is to preserve South Asian dance’s history, while expanding its contemporary methods and creating contemporary currency for South Asian classical dance. Krishnan’s scholarly repertoire is as extensive as his choreographic one. His research covers historic and sociological themes, from queerness and global cultural politics in dance to the history of devadasi-courtesan dance to representations of Bharatanatyam on film. These themes bleed into his choreography, and vice-versa. In 2019 his first book, Celluloid Classicism: Early Tamli Cinema and the Making of Modern Bharatanatyam, was published by Wesleyan University Press.