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Why is Lavani dance experiencing an urban revival in India?

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Artists from Asha Rupa Vaishali Parbhanikar troupe ready to start their performance at a state organised Lavani Festival at NCPA, Mumbai. Credit: Kruti Kothari

Well-known throughout India due to its appearance in popular films, Lavani is a dance form originating in Maharashtra, Western India, that often directly explores themes of female sexuality. However, women who dance Lavani have tended to be characterized as either money-minded manipulators, instrumentally and unscrupulously enlisting the sensuality of their dance to seduce impressionable men and destroy respectable families, or as themselves exploited — victims of caste, class, and gender-inflected sociopolitical structures and age-old relations of marginalization, exclusion and oppression.

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