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Beyond Bollywood: 2000 Years of Dance in Art

Mar 31, 2023 – Jul 10, 2023
Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Pavilion

A journey for the mind, body, and senses through two millennia of art inspired by dance from South and Southeast Asia and the Himalayas.

Final week!

Dance is everywhere in the arts of the Indian cultural sphere: from the sacred dance of a god bringing the world into being to the elaborate choreography of modern Bollywood, every move has meaning. Through July 10, 2023, the Asian Art Museum presents Beyond Bollywood: 2000 Years of Dance in Art, inviting all to discover the power of dance in the visual arts of India, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas, where dancing plays a significant role in religion, mythology, and ceremony.

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Featuring more than 120 artworks borrowed from 20 of the finest museums and private collections, Beyond Bollywood immerses museumgoers in a multimedia showcase of dance, bringing a wide array of historic and contemporary sculpture, painting, textiles, jewelry, photographs, and more to vivid, passionate life. Through encounters with artworks from countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia, Beyond Bollywood reveals the enduring capacity of dance to inspire a diverse range of artists and audiences alike. “We hope visitors will come away with a transformed notion of the importance and power of dance,” says co-curator Forrest McGill, “what it has meant in the past, and what it can mean in their own lives today.”

The exhibition’s design takes full advantage of the theatrical and technical capabilities of the museum’s new Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Pavilion, incorporating experiential elements from subtle musical backdrops to gallery-spanning video installations. Through live dance performances (taking place within the main pavilion itself) and other associated dance events and programs, viewers can experience the magic of dance in person.

Beyond Bollywood is organized by the Asian Art Museum and the Cincinatti Art Museum and co-curated by Wattis Senior Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art Forrest McGill and Ainsley M. Cameron, curator of South Asian Art, Islamic Art and Antiquities at the Cincinnati Art Museum. An exhibition catalog published by the Asian Art Museum includes essays by McGill, Cameron, Laura Weinstein, Padma Kaimal, and Esha Niyogi De.

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Related Events and Performances

Experience the power of dance live at the museum with pop-up performances in the exhibition galleries, live dance events, and more. See our schedule of all Beyond Bollywood events and performances


Top image: Dancing villagers (detail), approx. 1730. Attributed to Pandit Seu (Indian, 1680–1740). Opaque watercolors on paper. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, from the Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection, Museum Associates Purchase, M.77.19.24.

Organizers & Sponsors

Beyond Bollywood: 2000 Years of Dance in Art is co-organized by the Asian Art Museum and the Cincinnati Art Museum. This exhibition has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Generous support is provided by Eliza and Dean Cash, Sumir Chadha, Vaishali Chadha and Family, Yogen and Peggy Dalal, Sonia Dhami, Shashi and Dipanjan “DJ” Deb, Susan and John Diekman, Sameer Gandhi and Monica Lopez, Aarti and Sandeep Johri, Kiran Kapany and Ariana and Misha Schwarz, Lata Krishnan and Ajay B. Shah, Fred Levin & Salle Yoo and Jeff Gray, Dipti and Rakesh Mathur, Sundar and Anjali Pichai, SACHI: Society for Art & Cultural Heritage of India, Ram and Vijay Shriram, Sanjay and Suniti Subhedar, Meena Vashee, and an anonymous donor.

Sustained support generously provided by the Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Endowment Fund for Exhibitions.