MINNEAPOLIS (April 16, 2013) — Minnesota-based Ananya Dance Theatre will present “Moreechika: Season of Mirage” at the Harare International Festival of the Arts in Zimbabwe on April 30.
The festival is known internationally as one of the best festivals in Africa. HIFA showcases Zimbabwean and international artists in a comprehensive program of theater, dance, music, circus, street performance, spoken word, craft, and visual arts over six days each April and May. The 2013 festival runs from April 30 to May 5.
The theme of “Moreechika,” an evening-length work, is oil and the environmental, cultural, and human costs of its extraction, particularly on women in global communities of color.
Choreographed by Minnesota’s Dr. Ananya Chatterjea to an original score by composer Greg Schutte, “Moreechika” received its world premiere in July 2012 at the New Waves Festival in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The company presented subsequent performances in Minneapolis and Philadelphia, in September and October, respectively.
Chatterjea, a recipient of a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography and a 2012 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Choreography, serves as a professor and Director of Dance in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Trained initially in Indian classical and folk dance traditions, she became known at a young age as a practitioner of the Odissi classical style under the tutelage of her internationally acclaimed guru, Sanjukta Panigrahi. She performed and toured widely, dancing with diverse community-based companies and government initiatives.
“Moreechika” is the third work in a four-part investigation into systemic violence, trauma, resistance, and empowerment experienced by communities of color, using the thematic elements of mud (“Kshoy!/Decay!” 2010), gold (“Tushaanal: Fires of Dry Grass” 2011), oil (“Moreechika: Season of Mirage” 2012), and water (“Mohona: Estuaries of Desire” 2013).
As Chatterjea explains, the inspiration for ”Moreechika” has come from many sources, including “the struggles of Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who addressed the injustices done by Shell Oil to the Ogoni people and the destruction of their land and ecosystem, for which he was tried and hanged by a military tribunal.”
The struggles of the U’wa community of Colombia also informed the work.
“This community is stunned by the excessive consumption of oil by our world,”
Chatterjea says. “They think of oil as ruiria, blood of the earth, which must be respected as part of the natural world.”
Chatterjea also drew inspiration from the responses of the indigenous Kichwa women of Ecuador to Chevron oil, and the current struggle in North America against the Keystone XL Pipeline through Native American land.
ADT creates original dance theater that tells the metaphoric stories of women’s lives with a trademark emotional intensity and physical prowess that draw upon the company’s contemporary choreographic aesthetic and technique. This aesthetic explores and celebrates feminine energy at the intersection of artistic excellence and social justice.
Inspired by the commitment and passion that infuse women’s movements worldwide, the artists create original works that tell stories of ordinary lives, foster strong communities, raise social justice issues, and engender power and beauty.
Chatterjea seamlessly integrates the sculptural sensuality, powerful footwork, and emotional articulation of the classical Indian dance form Odissi, the pure lines and breath release of yoga, and a bodily awareness of energy in the martial arts tradition of Chhau.
Additional information is available on ADT’s website, ananyadancetheatre.org, and on Vimeo, Facebook and Twitter.
This engagement is supported by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Ananya Dance Theatre is supported by ArtsLab, a program of Arts Midwest.
The creation of “Moreechika” was funded, in part, by appropriations from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the State’s general fund, and its arts and cultural heritage fund that was created by a vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008. Additional funding provided by The McKnight Foundation, Institute for Advanced Studies, Image Fund, and underwritten by the American Composers Forum’s “Live Music for Dance Minnesota” program in partnership with New Music USA, with matching funds provided by the McKnight Foundation.
Chatterjea’s choreography has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Asian Arts Initiative, Minnesota State Arts Board, and the McKnight, Jerome, and Bush foundations. Recent engagements include an artist residency at the New Waves Institute in Trinidad (2011), a plenary performance at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference in Denver (2010), performances at the World Dance Event at New York City’s Dance Theater Workshop (2010), the keynote address and performance at the International Conference of Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed (2009), teaching and performing at Bates Dance Festival (2008), performances and panel presentations at Erasing Borders Festival (NY, 2008), teaching at the American Dance Festival (2008), and performances, workshops, and master classes through The O’Shaughnessy’s Women of Substance Performance Series (2008) in St. Paul.