August 4, 2022

Ananya Dance Theatre premieres Nün Gherāo in Saint Paul, 9/30-10/1

 Ananya Dance Theatre explores betrayal, dispossession and exile, and the desperate global resistance against great odds that fuels hope and survival in a new piece that premieres at The O’Shaughnessy Friday-Saturday, September 30-October 1 at 7:30pm. Using the 1978-79 massacre of 10,000 refugees on the Marichjhapi Island in West Bengal, India, as its point of departure, Nün Gherāo: Surrounded by Salt tags and stimulates different sites of memory through meditations on dancing in salt water, where one’s tears meet the rising and warming oceans of our world. 

ASL interpreted on Friday, September 30.

Choreographed by Ananya Chatterjea and performed by the artists of Ananya Dance Theatre, Nün Gherāo (“noon ghey-raow”) becomes activated through shared breath and rhythms, practices of mourning, overlapping time cycles, ritualized movement, dances of liberation and personal connection. The choreographic language of Yorchhā employs movement principles of Odissi, Mayurbhanj Chhau and Vinyasa Yoga to articulate a contemporary feminist consciousness and aesthetic. 

Chatterjea said, “The overarching inspiration for the work comes from poet Agha Shahid Ali’s line ‘Your history stands in the way of my memory’ (Farewell, 1997), and it plays with different dimensions of time – history, memory and futurity. I grew up in Kolkata – only 40 miles from Marichjhapi Island – and yet I knew little about the massacre. Current world events sparked my longing to find out more. Yet it wasn’t until a recent visit back to India that I became motivated to look more intensely at the horrific slaughter and connect it to eco-disasters and social justice.” 

The world premiere features the work of an exceptional team of collaborators, including sound artist Spirit McIntyre (performing live), stage director Marcus Young, lighting designer Kevin A. Jones, costume designer Annie Cady, scenery designer Chelsea Warren, properties designer Kezia Florence, writer Mimi Mondal and film designer Darren Johnson

The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University is located at 2004 Randolph Ave. in Saint Paul. Ananya Dance Theatre and The O’Shaughnessy are implementing Pay What You Can for these performances. The suggested ticket price is $30. For more information and tickets, contact The O’Shaughnessy Ticket Office at 651-690-6700 or online at

Nün Gherāo:  Surrounded by Salt (World premiere)

Choreography:  Ananya Chatterjea (Minneapolis) 

Sound score:  Spirit Paris McIntyre; performing live (New Orleans) 

Stage director: Marcus Young (St. Paul)

Lighting design: Kevin A. Jones (Minneapolis)

Costume design: Annie Cady (St. Paul)

Scenic design: Chelsea Warren (Minneapolis)

Properties design:  Kezia Florence (Minneapolis)

Writer:  Mimi Mondal (New York)

Film design:  Darren Johnson (Minneapolis)


Ananya Dance Theatre is a company of cultural activists and BIPOC women, womxn, and femme artists who believe in the transformative power of dance. In dancing stories where lives and dreams of the global majority occupy the center, ADT shifts the landscape of mainstream culture, builds understanding about arts and social justice, and empowers artistic voices.

Nün Gherāo was commissioned by the Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Nün Gherāo was created in part during a residency at the Pillow Lab at Jacob’s Pillow. Nün Gherāo is supported by the City of Saint Paul Cultural Sales Tax Rehabilitation Program and by the Marbrook Foundation. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. This project is also supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit Ananya Dance Theatre is supported by the Regional Cultural Treasures Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation, Ford Foundation and McKnight Foundation. 

ABOUT THE O’SHAUGHNESSY St. Catherine University and The O’Shaughnessy staff carefully curate a selection of artistic offerings that highlight women’s voices and center themes of social justice, reflecting the University’s mission to educate women to lead and influence. Programming includes live dance, music, and theater performances as well as a Speaker Series designed by St. Catherine University faculty to foster learning and dialogue. In addition, many local arts organizations call The O’Shaughnessy home. The venue provides a high quality, 1,800-seat performance space, smaller spaces that can accommodate more intimate performances, technical staff who are experts in their field, and professional, patron-focused ticketing services and front of house support. With a legacy in Saint Paul of over 50 years and more than 30,000 patrons who attend annually, the O’Shaughnessy is one of the largest performing arts venues in the Twin Cities.