Wesleyan portrait of Hari  Krishnan

Hari Krishnan

Professor of Dance

Dance Studios, 160 Cross St, 002

Chair, Dance

Professor, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


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BA University of Manitoba
MFA York University
PHD Texas Womans University

Hari Krishnan


Hari Krishnan is a dancer, choreographer, scholar, and educator who specializes in Bharatanatyam and post-colonial, queer dance and film studies in additon to contemporary dance from global perspectives. He has trained with hereditary courtesan teachers in South India who were the original repositories of Bharatanatyam. He is also the artistic director of Toronto-based dance company, inDANCE (indance.ca), which he founded in 1999.

Krishnan’s choreography explores post-colonial complexities in Indian dance and queer themes, as well as the intersection of traditional South Asian and global contemporary dance forms. His extensive body of work is based on critical perspectives on Bharatanatyam, fused with contemporary global dance styles and postmodern social critique. His pieces are bombastic, boldly confronting political and sociological issues. Works such as Holy Cow(s)! (2017) – spawned when, while eating lunch together, someone expressed surprise that Krishnan was eating a beef burger – are designed to challenge stereotypes and reclaim control over narratives of sexuality, religion, and culture in a Western-dominated global arts world.

Krishnan frequently collaborates with and mounts productions from an expanding roster of similarly progessive artists. He is also engaged in critical and ethical mediated reconstructions of South Indian courtean dances and techniques from the 18th and early 20th centuries. These representations are rarely seen on global stages today. Krishnan performs and choreographs them through extensive research. The goal is to engage with critical dance history in multiple ways, while expanding its contemporary methods and creating contemporary currency for South Asian classical dance.

Krishnan’s scholarly repertoire is as extensive as his choreographic one. His research covers historic and sociological themes, from queerness and global cultural politics in dance to the history of devadasi-courtesan dance to representations of Bharatanatyam on film. These themes bleed into his choreography, and vice-versa. His monograph, Celluloid Classicism: Early Tamil Cinema and the Making of Modern Bharatanatyam (Wesleyan University Press, 2019) won a special citation from the 2020 de la Torre Bueno© First Book Award Committee of the Dance Studies Association. The book has been hailed as “an invaluable addition to the scholarship on Bharatanatyam.”    

Some of his awards and nominations include the coveted National Dance Project Grant (2023) for his creation "ROWDIES IN LOVE", Eldred Family Choreography Nomination (2021), a Mellon Foundation Grant (2021- co-recipient with SAEDA- South Asian Experimental Dance Artists)Eramus Mundus Residency Award (Europe, 2015); Bessie Nomination (2013) for Outstanding Performance- New York Dance and Performance Awards (New York City); Bessie Schoenberg Choreographic Residency Award – The Yard (USA, 2013); Desi Canadian Achiever Award (2011); Dora Mavor Moore Nomination (2009) for Best Choreography (Theater) and recipient of several Canadian grants from Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Bank of Montreal and Laidlaw Foundation.






Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

Mon/Weds- 11.30am-12.30pm

OR By Appointment


Fall 2023
DANC 261 - 01
Bharata Natyam I

DANC 366 - 01
Queering the Dancing Body