From Hindi to English: How Does Language Shape the Meaning Behind Bollywood?


It is worth noting the prevalence of religious traditions worldwide that incorporate dance performances by deities, acknowledges Forrest McGill, one of the co-curators for a novel exhibit at the Asian Art Museum centered on exploring the origins of South and Southeast Asian performance. The exhibition titled Beyond Bollywood: Years of Dance in Art presents an extensive array of artifacts from five countries, sourced from museums and private collections, within the museum’s spacious ,-square-foot pavilion. The exhibit, which will be open until July , encompasses a diverse yet meticulously curated collection of artwork including paintings and sculptures, as well as depictions of dancers in motion showcased through the use of tablets scattered throughout the galleries.

The recently opened exhibit pavilion provides an incredible opportunity to infuse a centuries-old movement with contemporary life. Notably, performance videos can be displayed across entire gallery walls, often spanning three walls simultaneously. The exhibit goes beyond the glitz and glamour of Bollywood and acknowledges that dance, whether it is depicted by visual artists or performed on stage, has always been more than mere entertainment. According to Jay Xu, the museum director, behind every graceful swish or energetic stomp lies significant stakes– personal pleasure and public renown, birth and death, and both global creation and destruction.

accompaniment that ranges from classical to experimental, the exhibition takes viewers on a journey through the cosmos.

The exhibition explores the vast expanse of the universe through six distinct themes, each featuring signature artwork that is complemented by additional works to extend its scope. The clever installation of the museum allows visitors to witness a dance tradition evolve across time, moving from an ancient sculpture to a th-century painting, finally culminating in a contemporary performance captured on video. The galleries are deliberately illuminated to focus attention on the spotlighted pieces while ensuring that videos are brightly visible on walls or tablets. With a musical score that spans from classical to experimental, this exhibit offers an immersive experience that expertly navigates through the cosmic wonders of the universe.

a viewer, one can’t help but feel the surreal quality of the whole experience. The collaboration between the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Asian Art Museum curators and planners resulted in the production of “Beyond Bollywood,” an exhibit that opened to the public last November. The co-curator responsible for this exhibition was Ainsley M. Cameron. The opening gallery, which explores the theme of “Destruction and Creation,” is dominated by a dynamic copper alloy figure called “Shiva Nataraja, the Lord of Dance.” This iconic statue dates back to – from the Thanjavur district of India and is just one element of the immersive exhibition that boasts dramatic and evocative spaces. Despite its vivid imagery, as a viewer, one cannot shake the dreamlike feeling that comes with experiencing this exhibition.

According to McGill, the images of Shiva and other deities showcased in this exhibition were designed primarily for worship rather than simply aesthetic appeal. The transcendence of these deities across cultures is also a prominent theme in the exhibit. Notably, the Newsweek magazine cover from features President Barack Obama as the God of All Things, striking a pose reminiscent of Shiva Nataraja with multiple arms. Additionally, the exhibit catalog includes an image of a can of Shiva IPA beer from Asheville, NC, which the brewery owner explains was created to pay tribute to the god’s strength and power. Moving into the Devotion gallery, Krishna’s story takes center stage.

group of royals, originating from India’s Chola dynasty. Another noteworthy piece is a th century Mughal painting depicting Emperor Akbar and his courtiers enjoying a musical performance. The exhibition also showcases the diversity of dance forms in different regions of India, such as Kathak, Bharatanatyam and Manipuri, through photographs and sculptures. Overall, the exhibit presents an insightful overview of the rich cultural heritage of Indian dance and art.

Exploring the depths of the forest with his flute, the man entices female cowherders who joyfully join him in dancing. A contemporary take on this tale is presented through a video featuring classical dancers from Bangalore. This exhibition delves into various themes, including Subjugation, symbolizing the defeat of evil forces. A striking bronze sculpture from Thailand, dating back to -, titled Dancing Hevajra Surrounded by Dancing Yoginis, powerfully depicts this concept.


In conclusion, the Deities and Devotion exhibit offers a unique opportunity to explore the profound impact that divine figures have had on societies throughout history. With its emphasis on the spiritual significance of these artifacts, the exhibit offers a refreshing perspective on the intersection of art and religion. The depiction of deities as objects of worship rather than mere artistic expressions highlights the power of faith in shaping cultural identity. Whether it’s through the transcendence of divine figures across cultures, or the contemporary interpretation of ancient deities, the exhibit encourages us to contemplate the spiritual dimensions of human experience. In the Devotion gallery, Krishna’s story reminds us of the enduring power of religious iconography to inspire devotion and awe. Through this exhibition, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the role that deities have played in shaping human history and spirituality.


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