Ananya Chatterjea (2011 Guggenheim Choreography Fellowship, 2012 McKnight Choreography Fellowship, 2016 Joyce Award) is the artistic director of Ananya Dance Theatre and leader of the Shawngram Institute for Performance & Social Justice. She makes “People Powered Dances of Transformation” that intersect women artists of color and social justice choreography.
Hui Niu Wilcox, Ph.D., has been moving and thinking with Ananya Dance Theatre since 2004. She is a Professor and Chair of Sociology at St. Catherine University. She also teaches in Women’s Studies and Critical Studies of Race/Ethnicity. Hui is grateful for the privilege of engaging in activism through dance, and for the loving support of her family and friends, especially Elliot, Claire, and Lynn.
Renée Copeland has performed with Ananya Dance Theatre since 2010. She is co-founder of the dance/performance-art duo Hiponymous, a collaborator in the hip-hop-based dance collective BRKFST, and is a poet, musician and singer-songwriter. She is a 2018 McKnight Dance Fellowship recipient. She holds enduring gratitude for the Twin Cities’ immense community of artists, family and friends, who inspire so much of her work, connecting her to the world. She is honored to dance transformative realities with the powerful people of ADT.
Leila Awadallah has been dancing with Ananya Dance Theatre since 2013. She has a BFA in Dance from the University of Minnesota, and a minor in Asian Language and Literature with a focus on Arabic Studies. Leila is currently a Springboard for the Arts 20/20 Fellow, and a Jerome Foundation Travel Research (2018) and SAGE Award recipient (2016). Her current research in Arabic folk dance and Arabic contemporary dance has been activated through recent travels to Lebanon and Palestine where she performs, teaches, and studies. Working with this company of artists continues to deeply awaken her ancestral roots, and activates her presence in spaces where social justice work, community and art intersect.
Originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, Kealoha Ferreira has taught and performed with Ananya Dance Theatre since 2013. Her love for the company and its contemporary Yorchha technique took hold while she was a dance major at the University of Minnesota. She has conducted residencies at North, Patrick Henry, and Washburn High Schools, Camp Masala, and Young Dance, introducing Yorchha, restaging ADT repertoire, and leading artists to create empowering choreography that investigates identity and community. Kealoha serves as ADT’s Artistic Associate and Co-Leader of its Shawngram Institute for Performance & Social Justice, where she teaches movement classes, workshops, and intensives.
Alessandra Lebea Williams earned her PhD in Culture & Performance at UCLA. She began dancing with Ananya Dance Theatre in Pipaashaa (2007) and Ashesh Barsha (2009). Originally from Minneapolis, she earned her BA in American Studies and Dance at Macalester College and later received the Grassroots Solutions Organizer of the Year Award for her community organizing. Currently, she serves as Inclusive Excellence Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, teaching in Theatre & Dance and Women’s & Gender Studies.
Alexandra Eady entered into the space of Ananya Dance Theatre at the age of 16. She is continuously grateful for the opportunity to learn from the powerful people that occupy this space. ADT’s commitment to social justice and intentional choreographic creations is what fuels her performance onstage. She earned her degree in dance from the the University of Minnesota in 2016. She is incredibly thankful for her wonderful mentors, teachers, students, friends and family that give her endless energy and light.
Julia Gay is an actor, dancer, poet, playwright, and stand-up comdian. She is a Chinese adoptee who writes and creates to bridge the vastness between memory, heart, and home. Julia completed her B.A. at Macalester College and was the recipient of The Playwrights’ Center’s 2017-18 Many Voices Mentorship. She is humbled and honored to be sharing the stage with artists she so admires.
Lizzette Chapa is a Mexican-American dancer and choreographer originally from The Rio Grande Valley, Texas. She is a recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a BFA in Dance. During her time at UT, she performed works by Rennie Harris, Sidra Bell, Johnnie Mercer, and more. She moved to Minnesota in 2017, and is honored to share the stage with the other Ananya Dance Theatre members. Looking to her artistic future, she will pursue an MFA in dance. She is grateful to continue her artistic passion nurtured by ADT’s commitment to social justice and community engagement.
Laichee Yang received a BFA degree in Fine/Studio Arts with a minor in Design at the University of Minnesota. Focused on graphic design, web development, and communications, Laichee has worked for organizations that include Ananya Dance Theatre, Indigenous Roots, Saint Paul Public Schools Department of Equity, Z-Puppets Rosenthal, and Free Arts Minnesota. A resident of St. Paul, she holds much gratitude for her chosen village of mentors, healers, artists, friends, family, and members of ADT that give her infinite love and inspiration.
Including his work as managing director of Ananya Dance Theatre and research collaborator with Dr. Ananya Chatterjea, Gary Peterson has served the dance field for more than 30 years as a consultant and as executive director of James Sewell Ballet, Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre, Zenon Dance Company, and the Southern Theater. He has produced professional dance performances at more than 300 domestic and international venues, including seven New York City engagements, two in Bermuda, one in Iceland, and one in Ethiopia. His perspectives
Emma Marlar, originally from Kenosha, WI, resides in the Minneapolis area, balancing a career in the performance, creation, and technical aspects of dance. Since graduating from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities with a BFA in Dance in 2016, she has made space and taken on work that allows her to support others, spark conversation, create collaboratively, and pursue endless explorations in movement. Ananya Dance Theatre continues to fulfill all of this and so much more. Emma has been working with the company since 2014. She feels incredibly thankful for the opportunity to continually witness how this work transforms the dancers, audience, community, and herself.
Toan Thanh Doan is pursuing a BA in International Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Macalester College. Originally introduced to Ananya Dance Theatre through Horidraa: Golden Healing (2016), he has apprenticed with ADT since 2016 and served as stage manager for Shyamali (2017) and Shaatranga (2018). Toan is honored to be part of the company’s community-based professionalism which has greatly informed his learning and work in LGBT and feminist activism in Viet Nam. He is deeply grateful for the challenge, community, and sense of belonging upheld by all members of Ananya Dance Theatre.
I am a founding member of ADT, so I have been around a long time and I have witnessed tremendous growth and maturity within this dance company. I see infinite possibilities in ADT’s future. ADT's work is crucially important – truly like no other – because it remains rooted in social justice and artistic excellence while also blazing new trails and challenging the often narrow and exclusionary concepts of contemporary dance. The work speaks for itself; this company is absolutely captivating. Through the dancers, pure energy is translated into action.
I am the vice-president of the board for ADT. I have been on the board for over a year and a half. From the first time I saw the dancers of ADT, I have been impressed by their skills, technical expertise, and the beauty and passion of their work. What particularly draws me to ADT is the originality of their dance and the necessity of the vision embodied in that dance.
I first encountered ADT in 2004, when I was asked to prepare its application for tax exemption. I'm a CPA and - more recently - an attorney. A professional acquaintance who was then on the Board sought me out because nonprofits' tax compliance is one of my main practice areas. I've prepared the organization's tax filings ever since, through several changes in my own working life. Three years ago, I joined the Board.
I spent buckets of money studying actors' movement and ballet when I was living in New York and not succeeding in show business. That was some time ago, but I still take being an audience member very seriously, for any performance. ADT's works deserve no less than all the energy and focus I can bring to them. They give me nightmares, that is, they succeed fabulously. At what?
Marcus Young 楊墨 is a behavioral and social practice artist making work for the stage, museums, and the public realm. He is the founding artist for Don’t You Feel It Too? — an ongoing participatory street dance practice of social healing and inner-life liberation. (DYFIT.org) From 2006 to 2015, he was City Artist in St. Paul, where he helped redefine the role of the artist in government as daily collaborator. His project Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk transformed the city’s sidewalk maintenance program into a publishing entity for poetry. In his work With Nothing to Give, I Give Myself Young lived ten days around-the-clock at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to foster the understanding that people are the great overlooked works of art. Born in Hong Kong, Young has a BA in music from Carleton College and an MFA in theater from the University of Minnesota. He is a recipient of awards from the McKnight, Bush, and Jerome Foundations, and he received the 2016 Forecast Public Art Mid-Career Grant, given to one artist a year. Recently, Young was in residence at UC Irvine and St. Olaf College, and he is currently an artist in the creative collaborations program at the Weisman Art Museum. Young also consults on public art, creative ideation, and mindfulness group facilitation. Staatranga is his seventh show with Ananya Dance Theatre.
Annie Cady holds an MFA degree in Theatre Design and Technology from the University of Minnesota, and a BA in Theatre Arts from Simpson College. Her professional design credits include productions for Children’s Theatre Company, Normandale Community College, Commonweal Theatre, Ten Thousand Things, Jungle Theatre, Black Label Movement, Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company, AMP, and Threads Dance Company. http://www.anniecady.com/
Kevin A. Jones has worked in the professional dance and theater community for nearly 40 years. He was resident lighting designer and production manager for James Sewell Ballet for 20 years. His designs have illuminated internationally acclaimed ballets such as Moving Works, Barrage, Appalachia Waltz, Your Move, and Guy Noir: The Ballet. Jones designed for Minnesota Dance Theatre, CAAM Dance, SOLO, The McKnight Dance Fellows, and many others. He lit Sharon Eyal / Gai Behar’s Killer Pig for Gauthier Dance at the Colours International Dance Festival in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2017, and for Rambert in London, UK, in 2018. Jones is the Production Manager for The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, where Dr. Maya Angelou declared him “one of the best stage managers in America.” He designed and implemented the lighting and sound systems for the TEK Box at the Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts. In 2018, he designed and implemented the dance floors and audio/visual systems for ADT’s Shawngram Institute for Performance & Social Justice.
Dameun Strangeis a sound artist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer whose conceptual chamber works, choral pieces, and operas are focused on stories of the African diaspora, often exploring afrofuturist themes. Strange is compelled to express through sound, music, and poetry, the beauty and resilience of the Black experience, digging into a pantheon of ancestors to tell stories of triumph while connecting the past, present, and future. His sound experiments have many dimensions, using West African polyrhythms, classical music forms, contemporary jazz harmonic explorations, and found sounds and historic recordings to create modern afrofuturist performances. These performances disrupt notions of genre and the natures of Black music and Blackness. http://www.dameunstrange.com
Chelsea Warren is a multidisciplinary theater artist with a focus on scenic and puppet design with an equal interest in both traditional and devised creation processes. Her scenic design work includes Cleveland Play House, Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, Geva Theatre in Rochester NY, Milwaukee Rep, WaterTower Theatre in Dallas TX, About Face Theatre, Writer’s Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, A Red Orchid Theatre, and Steep Theatre. Chelsea is a founding member of Yellow House, a devised theater company working in both site specific and theatrical environments with the goal of placing design and performance in direct dialogue. She was awarded the 2012 Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award, and was nominated for the Equity Jeff Award for Mid-Size Scenic Design for The Kid Thingand After All the Terrible Things I Do, both for About Face Theatre. Chelsea received an MFA in Stage Design from Northwestern University, and is Assistant Professor of Scenic Design at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. She is a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829. https://www.chelseamwarren.com
Darren Johnson is proud to have collaborated with Ananya Dance Theater for more than 15 years, traveling from Kolkata to Maui with interdisciplinary projects. A writer and video producer whose work runs the gamut from documentary to experimental, he has tackled tough issues like implicit bias and diversity in the legal profession; aided and spotlighted innovation in the arts; and is currently producing a documentary about ADT, finishing a spoken word audiobook, and developing feature film projects that explore alternatives to complex roots of racial intolerance, violence, and environmental degradation.
Greg Schutte is a composer, drummer, producer, and sound designer. As a touring drummer, Schutte currently plays with Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham. He has performed nationally and internationally with a variety of other artists, including Chastity Brown, Todd Clouser’s A Love Electric, The Hornheads, Jelloslave, Lori Line, Anthony Cox, Empire Brass, Chuchito Valdez, Bernard Allison, and more. He performed on B.B. King’s 2002 U.S. “Summer Blues Fest” with The Shane Henry Group; Ruf Records’ 2004 European “Blues Caravan” Tour with guitarist Sue Foley; and Cyndi Lauper’s 2006 “Body Acoustic World Tour” with Minneapolis Reggae Pop group The RULE. Schutte toured Iraq and Kuwait in 2010, performing for the U.S./Coalition Forces with singer/songwriter Keri Noble. He owns and produces music at The Bathtub Shrine Recording Studio in NE Minneapolis. http://www.gregschuttemusic.com
Andrea (Queen Drea) Reynolds, recipient of a 2017 Minnesota Emerging Composer Award administered by the American Composers Forum, is a vocalist, performance, and soundscape artist whose pieces are often conceived and created under the auspices of improvisational settings. Queen Drea has created work about depression in the Black community for Intermedia Arts, and about the loss of Black men’s lives in America at Red Eye Theater. She has been commissioned to compose soundscapes for Ananya Dance Theatre and Black Label Movement, and sound design for Penumbra Theatre’s current production of For Colored Girls. https://www.queendrea.com “I have been investigating some thoughts on Black Love and how it is strong enough to withstand being denied. Acknowledging that the way we came to this country and the way our families were separated is the reason why we are separated now. Acknowledging the pain of this reality. Acknowledging the beauty of this reality. Acknowledging Black Love in its many forms and expressing this love thru my art.” –Queen Drea
Dr. Pooja Goswami Pavan, vocalist, is a Minneapolis-based performer, composer, teacher, and scholar of Hindustani music. She received her early training in Hindustani classical vocal music from her father Sri. Surendra Goswami. Currently, she receives training in Khayal from her brother, Dr. Shailendra Goswami. Pavan received a Ph.D. in Music from the University of Delhi in 2005. She also is trained in semi-classical music by the eminent vocalist Vidushi Shanti Hiranand. Pavan has been an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota’s School of Music and Macalester College, where she has taught courses in Indian music and culture since 2006. poojagoswamipavan.com
Michelle Kinney, cellist, serves as Musician In Residence on the faculty of the University of Minnesota Dance Program. She holds a BA in cello performance, composition, and ethnomusicology/jazz studies from Northwestern University, and an MA in Performance Studies from New York University. Michelle is a grateful recipient of a 2014 McKnight Fellowship in Composition and a MRAC Next Step Fund Award. Her career has also been supported by the Bush Foundation, American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, and in 2013 a Minnesota State Arts Board Arts Tour Grant for the cello/drum quartet Jelloslave. She performs with Twin Cities luminaries such as Nirmala Rajasekar, Prudence Johnson, Gao Hong, and with her husband, composer and guitarist Chris Cunningham in the “micro orchestra” Mississippi Peace. She also collaborates as a composer for dance and theater, notably with Kevin Kling and Michael Sommers, Time Track Productions, Stuart Pimsler Dance Theater, Black Label Movement, Laurie Van Weiren and Seattle’s Khambatta Dance. www.jelloslavemusic.com/band-member/michelle-kinney/