Pipaashaa: Extreme Thirst

"Pipaashaa: Extreme Thirst" is the first piece of a trilogy created by Ananya Dance Theatre exploring issues of environmental injustice. Working collaboratively with leaders in the environmental justice movement, Cecilia Martinez and Shalini Gupta of the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, the dancers and artistic collaborators in this piece have researched issues of arsenic poisoning, industrial dumping, and other phenomena that have resulted from environmental racism and disregard for the integral relationship of human and natural resources. Pipaashaa has evolved from our responses to this research and from the understanding that communities affected by environmental destruction still try to resist injustice and labor to create hope and life energy.

World Premiere: September 6, 2007, The Southern Theater, Minneapolis, MN

Running Time: 80 minutes


Concept & Choreography: Ananya Chatterjea

Direction: Gülgün Kayim

Music Composition, Arrangement & Sound Design: Shubha Mudgal & Aneesh Pradhan

Costume Design: Rex Rajavairan

Lighting Design: Jeff Bartlett

Dancers: Wachen Anderson, Sherie Apungu, Ananya Chatterjea, Yan Huss, Gina Kundan, Simran Kundan, Sachiko Nishiuchi, Takawi Peters, Lela Pierce, Srija Chatterjea Sen, Stefania Strowder, Jasmine Kar Tang, Amy Ha Truong, Chitra Vairavan, Pramila Vasudevan, Hui Niu Wilcox, Clary Wong

Music Credits:

Music Composition, Arrangement, Sound Design: Shubha Mudgal & Aneesh Pradhan*

Performers: Shubha Mudgal (vocal), Aneesh Pradhan (percussion), Pratap Rath (percussion), Ganesh Mohan (sitar), Prakash Shejwal (pakhawaj), Pushpa Singh (vocal), Pooja Athavale (vocal). Shweta Deshpande (vocal)

Sound effects source – GrasshoppersSound Design

*Introductory flute improvisation by Nityanand Haldipur

Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Tanay Gajjar at AVA Studios, Mumbai, assisted by Pranam

Production & Stage Manager: Kari Mosel

Stage Manager: Michala Cornell

Assistant Stage Manager: Katie Holmes

Lobby Exhibit: Pramila Vasudevan, Lela Pierce, Aimee Agpoon, Romina Takimoto

Video Documentation & Production: Darren Johnson & Northern Dawn Media


Artistic Director’s Note: by Ananya Chatterjea

“Pipaashaa: Extreme Thirst” explores issues of toxic industrial spills and the damage and “body burden” they cause. Our research examined the dumping of toxic waste in Cote d’Ivoire and the ensuing protests in Abidjan, as well as the efforts of organizers to address the soil contamination in Minneapolis’ “Arsenic Triangle.” Working with images of acid rain and falling ash, burned into the skin of dancers and interrupting their work, we explored metaphoric expression of the trauma caused by such pollution.

Images of madness and un-natural relationships in Pipaashaa suggest the physical manifestations of toxic elements in women’s bodies and the emotional, cultural, spiritual, and societal toll that ensues. These images reflected what our collaborators described as “the added loss of control, a loss of self-determination at a very fundamental, internal, microbial, level” that comes with toxic contamination.

Production images of nuclear rain and sludge and of gently falling grass enhanced the investigation of toxicity on well-being and effectively prompted dancers and audiences to understand the integral relationship between environmental health and personal health.

Work and devastation
Tragedy and rebellion
Working together towards hope