“My being a feminist has nothing to do with men.” —Mallika Sarabhai
What can an ancient Hindu epic tell us about women’s empowerment today? One of India’s leading dancers and choreographers, as well as an activist for social responsibility and equity, Mallika Sarabhai choreographed the solo theatrical work “Shakti: The Power of Women,” drawing inspiration from Draupadi, the most important female character in the Mahabharata. “Even in the versions of the Mahabharata as we know it today [Draupadi], remains a woman proud equally of her intellect and her womanliness, her strength and her vulnerability,” Sarabhai says. “She does not equate intellectual rigor with stridency, or a quest for the truth as aggressiveness.” Since then she has created numerous stage productions that advocate for social transformation.
Sarabhai meets with social psychologist Anjali Dutt to analyze how best to foster behavioral change in a society frayed by inequity, prejudice and patriarchy.
Mallika Sarabhai is one of India’s leading choreographers and dancers, in constant demand as a soloist and with her own dance company, Darpana, creating and performing both classical and contemporary works. She has a PhD in organizational behavior and has been the co-director of the prestigious arts institution, Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, for nearly 30 years. Mallika first came to international notice in the role of Draupadi in Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata for five years all around the globe. Always an activist for societal education and women’s empowerment, Mallika began using her work for change. In 1989 she created the first of her hard-hitting solo theatrical works, Shakti: The Power of Women. Since then Mallika has created numerous stage productions which have raised awareness, highlighted crucial issues and advocated change, several of which productions have toured internationally as well as throughout India. She has run for political office, campaigning on a platform of social responsibility, and focusing on the problems of average people in India regardless of caste or language.
Anjali Dutt is Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Cincinnati. She studies the psychological processes associated with resistance to oppression and the realization of human rights in different contexts. She collaborates with grassroots community organizations to conduct mixed-methods research, exploring how structural changes in communities such as women’s ownership of land, and women’s participation in educational workshops and cooperative enterprises impact women’s empowerment and well-being.
Locations & Map
THE RUBIN MUSEUM OF ART