Please join Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT) for an open rehearsal of the company’s new work, “Tushaanal: Fires of Dry Grass,” on Monday, August 8, at 6:00 p.m. at the Barbara Barker Center for Dance, University of Minnesota, Room 100.
The piece premieres at the Southern Theater, September 9-11, and is the second work in a series on women in global communities of color resisting violence. The dancers and founder/artistic director Ananya Chatterjea, 2011 winner of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography, will be available after the rehearsal to take your comments and questions.
Tushaanal (the word means “fires of dry grass” in Bengali) “revolves around stories of gold, a natural and extremely valuable element that’s mined and harnessed as capital in ways that have resulted in tremendous violence,” Chatterjea explains. “Yet gold is also wrapped up in stories of desire, greed and beauty, in questions of value, and in craftsmanship and artistry (as in the fashioning of jewelry). Gold is also—conceptually, emotionally and spiritually—related to women’s sexuality and sensuality.”
The piece “imaginatively juxtaposes various stories,” Chatterjea continues, “stories of tremendous violence and violation in South Africa’s gold mines, of dowry deaths in South Asia, of sexual labor near mining towns, of communities uprooted in such areas as Congo and Guatemala, and of the murder of anti-mining activists. In Tushaanal, we’re examining the ambiguity of gold, its beauty and brilliance, its bloody underbelly, and its metaphorical role as a fire of inconsolable affliction.”
Tushaanal is co-directed by Chatterjea, ADT’s founding artistic director, who was lauded by Women’s E News as one of “21 Leaders for the 21st Century,” and OBIE Award-winning theater artist Laurie Carlos. Internationally acclaimed musicians Pooja Goswami, Mankwe Ndosi and Greg Schutte are composing the score. Tushaanal is the second work in a four-part investigation into violence, trauma, resistance and empowerment experienced by communities of color, using the elements of mud, gold, oil and water as metaphors. The series continues in 2012 with Moreechika: Season of Mirage, and concludes in 2013 with Mohona: Estuaries of Desire.
ADT’s trademark emotional intensity, physical prowess and resonant storytelling are derived from the company’s unique choreographic aesthetic. Chatterjea’s technique and style are rooted in the Indian dance form Odissi. Chatterjea seamlessly integrates the sculptural sensuality, powerful footwork and emotional articulation of Odissi with yoga’s pure lines and breath release, and with a bodily awareness of energy in such Indian martial-arts traditions such as Chhau. From this aesthetic, first articulated by the women of color who were founding members of the company, Chatterjea introduced an exploration of feminine energy that celebrated a feminist aesthetic. As the company draws from the commitment, passion and history of women’s movements around the world to dance the stories of women’s everyday lives, ADT’s movement aesthetic infuses the dancers’ storytelling with a powerful femininity and artistic excellence that inspires social justice.
Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT) is a singular company of women artists, primarily of color, who work at the intersection of artistic excellence and social justice. Inspired by the commitment and passion that infuse women’s movements worldwide, the artists in this company create original works that reflect women’s lives, foster strong communities, address social-justice issues, convey power and create beauty. ADT has been lauded around the world for its riveting, emotionally charged and virtuosic dance works. ADT is also sought after for community-building programs that empower individuals and strengthen underserved groups through movement and creativity. Taken from the Bengali word ananya (na’anya), “like whom there is no other,” ADT is the standard-bearer for dance that articulates ideas and expresses women’s lives to mobilize social change.