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.

July 12, 2011

Insight on our process

By Gina Kundan

Ananya Dance Theatre’s projects have always begun with researching the subject matter. In past years we have brought in leading experts to facilitate workshops that help dancers embody and articulate our movement vocabulary. This year we’ve taken a slightly different approach. Instead of bringing in outside experts to educate us about gold, we are educating ourselves and becoming our own experts. Dancers have been researching “Gold” in all of its many aspects and asking many questions: Where does it come from? How is it collected? What is the impact on the environment and communities? Why does it hold so much worldwide value?

Dancers have selected individual vantage points and are presenting their findings to the group. Together we’ve gathered an amazingly diverse array of perspectives on subjects like: mining in the Congo and South America, traditional customs and practices in diverse communities, Buddhist rituals in Thailand, The sex trade in gold mining towns, and exploring human desire.

Over the next several months I will be contributing gold research updates and sharing workshop reviews for this blog in effort to keep our supporters informed and engaged. In the next issue, I will share what we’ve learned about mining and its multiple impacts on environment and community.

June 25, 2011

Welcome to the Blog!

As part of our efforts to continuously connect to our communities we have decided to enter into the realm of blogging. Research conduced by our choreographer, dancers and collaborators informs our work as part of our creative process.  For the first time, ADT is opening this process to the public, something that has only been available to our performers and collaborators. This is our way to deepen conversations, spread awareness, and continue the dialogue outside the studio and beyond the performance.

Two of the main contributors come from the ADT Board of Directors.  Lori Young-Williams, local writer will reflect on the research and rehearsal process.  Visual artist, Ayanna Muata, will create image-collages that explore the thematic foci. Additional contributions will concentrate on community events, interviews with our collaborators and local Artists/Activists, and company spotlights.

Please join our conversation by commenting and contributing often!