We create original contemporary dance theater at the intersection of artistic excellence and social justice.
What we do
We create original dance theater with commissioned scores through the collaborative efforts of our company and guest artists who work in the realms of music and sound composition, spoken word, and lighting, scenic, media, and costume design.
We connect with transnational communities at home and on tour through social justice dance performances and residencies.
Our practice includes (1) devised concert stage productions; (2) workshops, classes, and dialogues with particular focus on building solidarities and healing; and (3) participatory performances that invite audiences to embody the possibilities of sharing movement, space, rhythm, and humanity with others.
Our work unfolds through Yorchha™, a unique movement aesthetic of contemporary dance that draws on Classical Odissi, the martial art Chhau, and Vinyasa Yoga, to celebrate a feminine energy and aesthetic.
We are committed to undoing the violence of racism, casteism, white supremacy, toxic masculinity, Empire, colonization, slavery, genocide, and other aggressions.
We believe in the liberation that rhythm, breath, and curvilinearity inaugurate.
We began as a community-based ensemble in 2004, when Artistic Director Ananya Chatterjea called together Black, Indigenous, and women and femmes of color who shared experiences of being on the outside of American concert dance and interests in creating socially relevant art.
Our performance home is The O’Shaughnessy Women of Substance series at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. We also have performed at The Cowles Center for Dance and the Southern Theater in Minneapolis, a variety of small indoor and alfresco venues, and were commissioned to create an original, full-length work for the opening of the Ordway Center’s Concert Hall in 2015.
We have performed and conducted residencies on tour in nine states and the District of Columbia. Internationally, we have performed at the Harare International Arts Festival, Zimbabwe; National Academy for Performing Arts, Trinidad; Bethlehem International Performing Arts Festival, Palestinian Territories; Aavejak Aavaaz Festival, Pragiyoti International Dance Festival, and Natya Ballet Dance Festival, all in India; Ocean Dance Festival, Bangladesh; and the Crossing Boundaries Festival, Ethiopia, supported by the U.S. State Department.
Our facility, the Shawngram Institute for Performance & Social Justice, is located in St. Paul at the confluence of the Rondo, Little Mekong, and Little Africa neighborhoods. From there, we rehearse, conduct classes and workshops, and host a variety of community activities to build understanding about arts and social justice, and empower artistic voices.
Our pranam, a salutation to the Earth on which we dance, pays homage to our Dakota and Anishinaabe relatives, with whom we stand at every moment of our work. See more…