Photographs, costumes and items from the extraordinary stories of Louise Lightfoot and Tara Rajkumar, pioneers of Indian dance in the West.
The Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU) is proud to present selections from Louise Lightfoot’s (1902-1979) bequest and lasting legacy of music, costumes, photographs, written materials and artefacts deriving from her engagement with Indian classical dance. As the first woman in Melbourne to graduate in architecture then serving an apprenticeship with Walter Burley Griffin, Lightfoot’s career dramatically changed course in 1938 during her visit to India where she learnt two ancient dance forms – Kathakali from Kerala and Manipuri from Manipur – and became the first person to popularise and bring performances of them to Australia, then the world.
Tara Rajkumar, renowned expert on Kathakali, has explored the post-colonial evolution of this dance form through the work of Lightfoot. Tara’s research culminated in her creation of Temple Dreaming which she produced for the official opening of the Performing Arts Centre at Monash University in 1996. The performance represents Tara’s reflections on Lightfoot, encapsulating who she was, what she accomplished and the ideals she stood for. Temple Dreaming was so successful that Tara was invited to present it at India’s Golden Jubilee – the 50th anniversary of India’s Independence – in 1997, and take it on tour around the subcontinent.
IPAC is delighted to present this exhibition celebrating these two pioneering women during the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence.