That Uday Shankar performed here was most surprising of all. In all my past reading and research about Uday Shankar, I had never read a reference to him or his company performing anywhere in the Intermountain West region of the United States. Very little details about Shankar's touring schedules are available, and for a long time I assumed his company only performed in big cities like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles because those were the only ones briefly mentioned.
General details of Uday Shankar's tours are outlined in the writings of Mohan Khokar and Ruth Abrahams. Nearly all of the performances in the U.S. by Shankar's company were sponsored by the renowned impresario Sol Hurok who first saw the group perform in Paris. Uday Shankar's first company (comprised of family, friends, and Simkie) first toured the U.S. in 1932-33 and 1933-34. Uday Shankar's second company (with new choreography and dancer additions Zohra Segal and Madhavan) performed in the U.S. in 1936-37 and 1937-38. After a return to India, the opening and closing of the Almora Center, and the release of the film Kalpana with little commercial success, Shankar and his third company (entirely revised with dancer addition Amala Shankar) returned to the U.S. in 1949 for a 10 week tour and again in 1951-52. The company's last performances in the United States took place in 1968.
Ruth Abrahams' dissertation on Uday Shankar is the only source I've found that gives specific details about Shankar's tours. A 1933 touring schedule on page 147 reveals that beyond the expected big cities, the tour included stops in places like Cleveland, Ohio; Madison, Wisconsin; Springfield, Missouri; Birmingham, Alabama; Waco, Texas; Tuscon, Arizona; and cities along the coastal pacific northwest and California. Abrahams notes, "The magnitude of the tour effort is remarkable to consider when one reflects on the circumstances of the times, the lack of convenient transportation, and the sheer bulk of personnel and baggage. Amenities, both professional and personal, were schizophrenic in effect—sometimes luxurious, but more often minimal, and the company was hard put upon to locate decent, affordable restaurants and housing. Usually, they just ate and slept on trains between concert dates." I wonder if the company encountered difficulties in their Deep South performance in Birmingham. When Indrani Rehman and her troupe performed in Louisiana almost three decades later in 1961, the troupe was refused admission to two restaurants due to racial segregation .
|Source: Utah Daily Chronicle |