September 8, 2011

Ananya Dance Theatre: Light-hearted Whimsy Isn't Spoken Here

By Submission by Gina Kundan

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, development of Tushaanal has relied on each dancer to not only hone and articulate their artistic craft, but also to research all the many attributes of, and associations with, gold.  Each dancer contributed research and concepts for the work. Some examples include Chitra Vairavan and Brittany Radke who focused on cultural norms and family traditions of beauty and wealth; Kenna Cottman who uncovered the often dire working conditions of artisanal gold mining camps; Renee Copeland who examined religious practices in Thailand; Hui Wilcox who explored stories of the Empress Dowager Cixi.  All of these studies have been woven into brilliant choreographic elements and inspired artistic choices. Dancers transform! Not just portraying characters, but genuinely embodying images of Goddess, Slave, Empress, Televangelist, Creature, Fire, and amidst all of that, some of us have lives as Women!

Come to this performance to witness an artistic expression of gold as adornment, gold as beauty, gold for wealth, gold for environmental degradation, gold for power, gold for status, gold for divinity, gold for oppression, gold desired, gold coveted, gold taken, gold lost.

Unique to dance theater in general and Ananya Dance Theatre in particular, our work is never about movement alone, it always has multiple layers of meaning, intention, emotionality, and physicality. Truly “like no other,” artistic rigor, dedication, focus, precision, and theatricality are essential requirements of this dance form. At every moment dancers must be acutely in tuned with their bodies. The precise placement of each finger and elbow, every glance, every raise of the eyebrow has meaning and purpose—carries a specific message.

Some have warned us that we have gone too far, that our work is too intense—nearly unbearable to witness—others say we haven’t gone far enough. One thing is certain: Tushaanal Fires of Dry Grass is not for the faint hearted.  Our sequins draw blood.  Light hearted whimsy isn’t spoken here.