Ananya Chatterjea (2011 Guggenheim Choreography Fellowship, 2012 McKnight Choreography Fellowship, 2016 Joyce Award) is the artistic director of Ananya Dance Theatre, creating “People Powered Dances of Transformation” that intersect women artists of color and social justice choreography. Her most recent work, "Horidraa," was described as “a sweeping work that makes reference to everything from online dating to the modern health care industry” (MPR News, 9/13/16),
Hui Niu Wilcox, Ph.D. has been moving and thinking with Ananya Dance Theatre since 2004. She is an Associate Professor and Chair of Sociology at St. Catherine University. She also teaches in Women’s Studies and Critical Studies of Race/Ethnicity. Wilcox 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 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 is a Palestinian-American artist in the Twin Cities and 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. She is a SAGE Award recipient (2016), and her work has been presented by ACDA at the Kennedy Center (2016) and in the BIPOD Festival in Beirut, Lebanon (2017). Working with this company of artists continues to unravel and deeply breathe into her sense of self in relation to the beautiful community that manifests from the many aspects of this work.
Kealoha Ferreira is beginning her fifth season as a performing and teaching artist with Ananya Dance Theatre. She is immensely grateful to have taught Yorchha and Choreographing Identity workshops at South High School, Patrick Henry High School, the Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment, and the Bunyiaad 2017 Summer Intensive. Her dancing is inspired by the overlapping histories and desires of the artists and students with whom she works.
Alessandra Williams began dancing with Ananya Dance Theatre in “Pipaashaa” (2007) and “Ashesh Barsha” (2009). Her favorite moments in the company’s repertoire are “Duurbaar: Journey Into Horizon” (2006), for its mesmerizing display of the potential to heal from struggles with vital resources such as water, and “Roktim: Nurture Incarnadine” (2015), for its capacity to highlight intersections across sexuality, gender, race, culture, and nation among women of color resisting the long-term health disparities of genetically modified foods. Alessandra aspires to embody a radical politics through her experience as an African American woman, dancer, Liberian-American, educator, and community organizer.
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 teaching artist. 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 is the recipient of The Playwrights’ Center’s 2017-18 Many Voices Mentorship. She is humbled and honored to be sharing the stage with artists whom she so admires.
Sophia Hill 丘松美 is an Asian-American artist who grew up in Shanghai, China. She began apprenticing with Ananya Dance Theatre in 2015. “Shyamali” is her first ensemble debut on stage alongside the fierce family that is ADT. She will graduate as a Visual Arts major from Macalester College in May 2018, and will pursue an MFA in the coming years. She is honored to grow as a professional dancer and visual artist rooted in Ananya Dance Theatre’s mission and vision.
Felicia Perry, ARTrepreneur specializing in fashion, design, performance art, and curating spaces, has danced professionally as a member of the Ananya Dance Theatre Company since January 2017. As an ARTreprenuer, Felicia explores multidisciplinary arts from several vantage points via multiple genres. She is an activist who serves on the Executive Committee of the Association for Black Economic Power, and an on air host of “DesignHER Life ” at KRSM Community Radio station. “Dancing gives me permission to be present in my mind and body. I dance with ADT because we embody artistry that has the power to holistically heal so many parts of ourselves.”
Jonathan (AJ) van Arneman is a dancer and writer from Sint Maarten, Dutch Caribbean. He holds a BA in Economics from Macalester College. This is his first year apprenticing with Ananya Dance Theatre. AJ is grateful for the model of activism and community he has found within the company’s space, and feels blessed to share the stage with such strong and talented individuals.
Lizzette Chapa is a Mexican-American dancer and choreographer originally from The Rio Grande Valley, Texas. She recently graduated 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 August 2017, and is honored to share the stage as an apprentice with 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.
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 is part dancer, part production manager, and in Ananya Dance Theatre is known as the boss of time. Emma graduated in 2016 with a BFA in dance from the University of Minnesota. She resides in the Twin Cities, balancing a career in the performance, creation, and technical sides of dance. This is her fourth season working with Ananya Dance Theatre. Emma feels extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity to support these incredible artists and important stories.
Toan Thanh Doan is pursuing a BA in International Studies at Macalester College, with a focus in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. As an aspiring dancer and activist, he has apprenticed with Ananya Dance Theatre since 2016. “Shyamali” is his first production as a stage manager. Originally introduced to ADT through “Horidraa: Golden Healing” (2016), Toan is honored to be part of the company’s community-based professionalism. He is deeply grateful for this 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?
The day Ananya invited me to join the ADT Board is still fresh; we met at Seward Coop at the end of the day. That was over two years ago. During this time, my understanding of ADT's work has deepened beyond what is expressed in ADT's mission statement and taglines. Where I find my passion merging with ADT's vision is the intense desire to bring about joy and beauty, through dance, in a world replete with unease, unawareness and dehumanization. ADT is unique in its quest to include the silenced, unheard marginalized communities of color, of women. In this powerful, unwavering journey towards peace, most dancers are intentionally chosen because they are women of color. Finally, what I admire is ADT's uncompromising stance on its loving, exquisite attention to the aesthetics of dance and movement.
Marcus Young 楊墨 is a behavioral and social practice artist making work for the stage, museums, and the public realm. He seeks new tones of belonging and liberation through design of behavioral and social forms, and shifts in systems and awareness that turn things into art. He created “Don’t You Feel It Too?” — an ongoing participatory street dance practice of social healing and inner-life liberation. 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. Museum work includes “With Nothing to Give, I Give Myself” — living 10 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. He received the 2016 Forecast Public Art Mid-Career Grant, given to one artist a year. “Shyamali” is his sixth production with Ananya Dance Theater. www.DYFIT.org
Greg Schutte is a composer, drummer, producer, and sound designer. “Shyamali” is his eighth commission for Ananya Dance Theatre. 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
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 behind the scenes of the professional dance and theater community for more than 38 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,” “Outerborough,” “Appalachia Waltz,” “Your Move,” and “Guy Noir: The Ballet.” Jones designed for Minnesota Dance Theatre, CAAM Dance, and numerous other dance and theater companies. Kevin is the Production Manager for The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University. Dr. Maya Angelou lauded him as “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 and the Performing Arts. In 2017, he lit Sharon Eyal / Gai Behar’s “Killer Pig” for Gauthier Dance at the Colours International Dance Festival in Stuttgart, Germany.
Joel Sass is a stage director, designer, and adapter based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he has worked since 1990, specializing in the creation of new work for the stage and devising imaginative reinterpretations of classic plays.
From 1990 to 1993 Joel worked with the Tony Award-winning Theatre de la Jeune Lune as resident assistant director to the company, where he participated in the creation of several of the company’s original pieces, in addition to designing and occasionally performing.
In 1994 Joel co-founded and was the artistic director of the Mary Worth Theatre Company in Minneapolis, an award-winning theatre lab where for nine years he directed, designed and adapted over 14 new works and imaginative treatments of classic plays. Mary Worth was named Best Independent Theatre Company-2003.
Joel was awarded a 2006 McKnight Theatre Artist Fellowship in recognition of sustained artistic excellence, and is the recipient of a 2006 IVEY award for scenic design (LAST OF THE BOYS by Steven Deitz), and a 2009 IVEY award for Overall Excellence (MARY’S WEDDING by Stephen Massicotte). In 2007, Joel was honored with the 2007 Alan Schneider Directing Award – a national award recognizing the work of freelance directors – administered by Theater Communications Group (TCG). Joel was named Best Director in 2002, and again in 2008 by the Twin Cities theatre critics. In 2009, he was named Best Scenic Designer in the Twin Cities, and the Jungle Theater was named Best Large Theater under his interim leadership. joelsass.com
Darren Johnson was an experimental video creator in the 1980s, commercial video producer and director throughout the 90s, and courtroom litigation strategist and multimedia producer for the early years of the 21st century. He is currently developing a slate of dramatic feature films exploring the more difficult issues of our time. He also is in post-production editing of “In Our Bodies Live Our Stories,” a documentary about Ananya Dance Theatre for release in 2018. He is honored that “Shyamali” marks fifteen years of collaborating with ADT. www.NorthernDawn.Media.
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/
Seitu Jones is a St. Paul visual artist. Working on his own or in collaboration with other artists or communities, he has created more than 30 large-scale public artworks. As a scenic designer, he has created sets for Penumbra Theatre (where he is a company member), Minneapolis Children’s Theatre, the Guthrie Theater, the Illusion Theater, Pangea World Theater, and Park Square Theatre. This is the second production he has created with Ananya Dance Theatre. For 18 months, Jones was a Senior Fellow in Agricultural Systems, in the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Science Resources. He is also on the faculty of Goddard College in Port Townsend, WA. http://www.goddard.edu/people/seitu-jones/
Mankwe Ndosi is a Twin Cities-based performer and composer who uses an expanded vocabulary of singing to express emotion, story and spirit. She works with artists in all media, and living beings of all kinds. She performs nationally and internationally, and has appeared with Nicole Mitchell, The Give Get Sistet, Mike Ladd, Sharon Bridgforth, Laurie Carlos, George Lewis, Medium Zach, I-Self Devine, Ananya Dance Theatre, Atmosphere, and Douglas Ewart – stalwart of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Music. Ndosi is a Wild Plant Woman and a Culture Worker who uses creative practice to nurture human connections to others, our ancestors, and the earth. mankwendosi.blogspot.com
Shá Cage, performance and text (Neel: Blutopias of Radical Dreaming), is an actor, writer, activist and spoken word artist. Her work and activism has taken her all across the U.S, to South Africa, England, France, the Netherlands, Croatia, Mali, Germany and Canada. She was named a Changemaker by the Women’s Press, was awarded a regional Emmy, is the recipient of a 2011 McKnight Theater Fellowship, and received an Ivey Award in 2013. Noted theater roles include: Mamie Till in Penumbra Theater’s Ballad of Emmett Till, Lena in the Guthrie Theater’s Clybourne Park, Venus in Frank Theater’s Venue, and Josephine in Mixed Blood’s Ruined. She can be seen in television commercials for Slumberland and Hamburger Helper, and is a founder of Mama Mosaic Theater (for Women) and the Minnesota Spoken Word Association. She is a Knight Finalist, was commissioned to work on the MN Girls Are Not for Sale initiative to end sex trafficking, and is a creative consultant with the City of Minneapolis. She will be touring her second solo work U/G/L/Y in the U.S. and England in 2015. truruts.com
Queen Drea Voice-Loops N Effects creates conceptual soundscapes. By applying a poetic and often metaphorical language to her lyrics and compositions, she approaches a wide scale of subjects in a multi-layered way that involves audiences in conversation as they accompany her musical journey. Her performances respond directly to the surrounding environment and use everyday experiences as a starting point. Often these are framed instances that would go unnoticed in their original context. With a conceptual approach, her work references love, pain, the feeling of not being “enough as a form of resistance against the logic of the “Normalcy” box people try to put her in.
Her works demonstrate how life extends beyond subjective limits and often tell a story about the effects of putting limits on one’s self in favor of fulfilling someone else’s expectations. Sometimes her poems and lyrics challenge the binaries we continually reconstruct between self and other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. Queen Drea wants to amplify the astonishment of the spectator by creating compositions or settings that generate tranquil poetic images that balance on the edge of recognition and alienation.
Queen Drea’s compositions appear as dreamlike images in which fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse. Time and memory always play a key role. By referencing romanticism, dark humor and symbolism, she creates work through labor-intensive processes which can be seen explicitly as a personal exorcism ritual.
Queen Drea Voice-Loops N Effects lives, works, and plays in the Twin Cities.