Professor of Communication and Performance in Fresno State Dr. Devendra Sharma was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for the 2022-23 academic year. The award will take him to his home country, India, to research and document swang-nautanki, a tradition of folk opera in northern India, and the traditional akharās, community swang-nautanki performance groups.
A popular form of entertainment for hundreds of years, traditional swang-nautanki and akharās are rapidly disappearing from Indian culture.
Through his Fulbright experience, Sharma intends to develop a larger theoretical performance model for communication that can be applied to different cultures. This scholarship will add to his impressive collection of book chapters, articles in peer-reviewed magazines and his forthcoming book “Nautanki: The Musical Theater of North India”, which is expected to be published by Bloomsbury Publishing Company, England, in 2023.
Sharma’s Fulbright research will also focus on the communicative dimensions of swang-nautanki, which has contributed to identity and culture in northern India. He intends to document the lessons conveyed in the performances to understand how swang-nautanki works as an effective communication channel.
“I feel that my research is important nationally and internationally and that it is useful in exporting larger communication courses that can be applied to a variety of multicultural places such as South Asia and Central California, as well as dealing with the communication potential of traditional performing arts “, Sharma explained. “There is a lot of traditional art in Central Valley and this Fulbright Award will help me and the State of Fresno contribute to the community around Fresno.”
Swang-nautanki performances appear in open spaces in or around a village. The tent is elevated above the ground and is usually made of wooden cots with a fabric background. Musicians and percussionists sit on one side and actors-singers occupy the main stage. The performances generally start around 10 pm and last until sunrise without a break. At its peak, larger performances would attract crowds of up to 15,000.
“I look forward to finding more time and resources to immerse myself in the wonderful world of performance, communication and swang-nautanki and conduct world-class research that will add to my scholarship and my classroom teaching,” said Sharma.
Sharma is a seventh generation nautanki opera singer, writer, director and guru. He has participated in more than 500 performances and directed many films depicting Indian film traditions. His father and teacher, Pandit Ram Dayal Sharma, is one of India’s most famous nautanki performers.
Sharma has served as Chief Creative Advisor for the United Nations Joint Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS) in India. She helped the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs develop a grassroots media campaign in Uttar Pradesh for women’s empowerment and health, and partnered with the West Fresno Boys and Girls Club on a performance and study initiative to reduce obesity among The impoverished children of Fresno.
Sharma is one of three Fresno State faculty members to win the Fulbright Awards this year, including political science professor Dr. Melanie H. Ram and music teacher Dr. Benjamin Boone (full story to follow). Recent biochemistry graduate Sydney Foxa member of the track and field team, also won a Fulbright Research Award.
(Photo: Devendra Sharma plays Mahoba Prince Indal with Sharvari Deshpande as Princess Chitralekha of Balk-Bukhara at the University of Wisconsin-Madison South Asia conference in 2015.)
Communication prof awarded Fulbright to research folk opera in India Source link Communication prof awarded Fulbright to research folk opera in India