October 2, 2015
Ananya Dance Theatre in Ethiopia
“Ananya Dance Theatre traveled thousands of miles to Addis Ababa to celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations between the US and Ethiopia. I can’t imagine a more fitting representative of my district than ADT, and I’m so proud that their hard work has given them the opportunity to share their craft with people all over the world.” –Keith Ellison, Member of Congress, MN-5, September 28, 2015
Ananya Dance Theatre performed at a reception for alumni of educational and cultural exchanges between the United States and Ethiopia, at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa, Thursday, September 24, 2015.
The reception was hosted by the U.S. Embassy as part of a month-long series of activities celebrating 75 years of U.S.–Ethiopia educational and cultural exchanges.
David Kennedy, the embassy’s Public Affairs Officer, introduced Ambassador Patricia Haslach, who delivered welcoming remarks.
Burnsville, Minnesota, native Learned Dees, the embassy’s Cultural Affairs Officer, introduced Ananya Dance Theatre and its 15-minute performance.
The performance included a sung poem linking the Mississippi and Nile rivers, and dancers circulating throughout the ballroom inviting attendees to “Dance with us!” Many, including Ambassador Haslach, did so.
Reception attendees included Mulatu Astatke, the “godfather of Ethiopian jazz.”
Following the reception, Artistic Director Ananya Chatterjea and the company appeared at the opening ceremonies of the Crossing Boundaries Festival & Conference, held at the Ethiopian National Theatre.
Ananya Dance Theatre presented the festival’s keynote performance, “Roktim: Nurture Incarnadine,” at National Theatre, Friday, September 25. “Roktim” received its world premiere just a week earlier at The O’Shaughnessy in St. Paul, September 19.
Amin Abdulkadir, Ethiopia’s Minister of Culture & Tourism, attended ADT’s performance and hosted all festival performers afterward at a dinner at Totot Traditional Restaurant.
The ADT company arrived in Addis Ababa, Monday, September 21, and conducted a variety of workshops throughout the week. The visit was sponsored by the U.S. State Department.
Tuesday, at the U.S. Embassy, dancers engaged in hours-long conversation and movement dialogue with 14 women, all law students from Addis Ababa University and members of the Yellow Movement, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of, and to change attitudes and behaviors that result in violence against women.
The company also conducted a joint workshop at the Addis Ababa Theater and Culture Hall with members of the Destino Dance Company, an Ethiopian ensemble established to help underprivileged young people develop their potential through dance.
On Wednesday, dancers conducted a workshop with faculty and students from the graduate theater program at the Cultural Arts Center of Addis Ababa University.
On Saturday, September 26, the company attended conference plenary sessions at the Goethe Institute of Addis Ababa University. Chatterjea participated in a roundtable discussion, “Movement, Ideas and Bodies,” with Elizabeth Wolde Giorgis, Ph.D., Director of AAU’s Gebre Kristos Desta Center, and Mshaï Mwangola, Ph.D., Research and Communications Officer, The African Peacebuilding Network Hub (APN-Hub).
Saturday evening activities included a Food Art Performance by Konjit Siyoum at the Asni Gallery.
On Monday, September 28, members of the Yellow Movement took the company to visit the women and girls of ASWAD, a shelter for women and child survivors of gender based violence.
The company returned to the U.S. on September 29.
The Crossing Boundaries Festival & Conference was organized by the Ethiopian Theatre Professionals Association, Addis Ababa University College of Performing & Visual Arts, and Sundance Institute East Africa Theater Program Alumni.
News article: Asian American Press, September 26, 2015.
News article: The Reporter, October 4, 2015.