September 15, 2011

Women Who Fly

Nimo Farah was invited to share her words and images in the lobby during our run of Tushaanal Fires of Dry Grass. We were honored by her talents and our audience were moved by her. We wanted to share, once again, the work of Nimo Farah


My mother wants more for me
than she’s ever had.
She was pressured to say “yes‟;
to use her hips that were not yet developed
before her lips were formed enough to say “no‟.

My mother sends me to a school
she cannot afford.
My hand is raised, my arm stretched.
I want to say “Call on me.
I want to tell you about the courage of my mother.”

My mother has flat feet, forcing her heels
that know no shoes to walk to her parents home
in the village where she was born.
To find them before death finds them,
and say, “I forgive you.”
Her pain gives her wisdom
and her wisdom gives us both wings.



Nimo Farah loves orators and different forms of storytelling and sees the material for a compelling story all around us. Being exposed to Ananya Dance Theater’s powerful storytelling through movement has inspired her to write about the struggles of humanity, particularly those of women. Feeling that our collective and most basic human values have been adopted without the counsel of women of color and that the abuse and imbalance of power has left a legacy of great hardship. With their natural resources thrown into the fiery pit of consumption and greed only to be branded into gleaming instruments of oppression and violence. She is moved by these women’s fortitude and shares some photography and poetic narrative that is inspired by Tushaanal: Fires of Dry Grass.

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.

September 6, 2011

Ananya's Movement Vocabulary

By Camille LeFevre

For years, I had the pleasure of reviewing Ananya Dance Theatre as a dance critic. Today, I have the greater pleasure of being the Director of Public Relations for the company.  Last spring, at Ananya’s insistence (she has a way of saying, “Camille, please, will you do this for me,” that’s so beguiling, I can’t say no), I participated in her Saturday morning warm-up/technique class that she leads for her dancers.

Using the Indian classical-dance form Odissi as her choreographic starting point, Ananya has innovated a movement style that articulates social critique while advancing artistic excellence. Her original choreographic model for practice and performance—generated on the women of color who were ADT’s founding members—transforms the company’s factual research and story sharing into metaphor and movement with the power to changes viewers’ lives—as you’ll witness during “Tushaanal: Fires of Dry Grass.”

Because it had been years since I’d taken a dance class of any kind, I warned her: Ok, but I’m only going to watch. So when I showed up in yoga pants and a t-shirt, ready to move (I had decided, well why not?), she was pleased. I positioned myself in the back of the room so I could watch the professionals, like Chitra, who embodies Ananya’s technique so thoroughly, and with such tremendous strength and grace, Ananya sometimes has her take over the class. And so, I flailed my way through. And experiencing Ananya’s singular, distinctive movement vocabulary was a revelation.
Understanding this technique or movement vocabulary is essential to a greater understanding of ADT’s work. So what did I learn? The movement was an intriguing combination of yoga, balletic fluidity, powerful transitions, intricate gestures and rigorous footwork! Now I know how, why, and from where these incredible dancers derive their strength and expressiveness, powerful feminity, intensity and truthfulness.

August 30, 2011

Conflict Minerals

By Negest L Woldeamanuale

How many times?

How many times before?

How many times before a child can walk 12 miles to school without hearing bullets busting rusted roofs?

How many times before a father could farm without seeing limbs on the brown soil that would feed his children, mother and sisters?

How many times before a kid turns a soldier in the name of the precious metal…future lost in struggle

How many times before a mother loses her daughter?

How many times before her dignity is torn?

How many times before a girl is raped in the name of your engagement ring?

How many times before the blood stops drowning the minds of the youth?

How many times before we brain wash our kids with glitters bearing the scars of their peers?

How many times before we realize beyond land and borders across the sea and sky sits a mother waiting for her child to return, a child that is mining out our pride?

How many times before villages are destroyed, schools ruined, and raiders honored?

How many times before conflicts are initiated by bracelets, earrings and chains?

How many times before death marks empowerment, pain grants pleasure and happiness bear muted sobs?

How many times before the bling bling fuels the bang bang?

How many times before genocide cuts and shines graves for our distant relatives?

How many times before life is indirectly affected, without knowing is robbed?

How many times before dreams are shot in the name of venom gifts wrapped with delusional vow?

How many times before we expose ourselves to reality instead of exposing innocents to cruelty?

How many times before…we stop deceiving ourselves?

How many times before we end following standards without knowing the reason, valuing nonsense to impress the system?

How many times before we avoid financing horror, conflicts, and terrorized metals?

How many times before we start mending the wound?

How many times before we stop ignoring the facts?

How many times before we see,

How many times before we change,

How many times more before?


August 27, 2011

Scars of Filigree

By Lela Pierce

reaching behind the past to the
present emotion
of nothing.
washed and swept out
leaking puss of tears,
oozing mind juice out tiny orifice pores,
falling, falling
in and out of
in and out of
the ultimate embarrassment
the unknown
How do you know?
what is?
i knowness:
a spiral
path within paths and circles within circles that can never be completed or followed at once.
How do you know when you’ve really let things go?
where exactly does IT go to?
what does it become?
These things creep into the crevices of our embodiment –
oscillate from past to present, mind to body to breath-
vapor to sky
…to nothing?
emotional traces
blown away
magnetic dust.
scars of filigree
habitual phantom quivers from an age-ed truth.
A foreign language of a distant self
trompsing through the forbidden forest of fears
mirrored traps
encapsulating movements
to an endless ripple of ecstasy

*…So i think this stuff came out after Laurie Carlos’s very intense emotional workshops last month as part of the recent work with ADT and the upcoming show Tushaanal….i let it sit for a while but thought maybe i should just risk sharing it in all its meritocracy now for some reason…just to recap what she did in the workshop: basically we sat in a circle and she started by acting (expressing) an emotion to us all very intensely… then she raised her left hand as a signal that she was finished. Then whoever felt drawn to go next interpreted/embodied that same emotion wherever they were at with it and then again raised their left hand as a signal of being done with it (no one was to interact with whoever’s turn it was)…it was very intense and it felt like everything kind of oscillated in and out of actually feeling the emotion vs. forcing it and pretending… im sure it was different for everyone but this is just some of the stuff that came up for me at the time…


August 25, 2011

Vow for the Price They Promised

By Laurie Carlos

Some of us have lives as women
Myths around dreams
Crystal clusters
An exchange for the life of a person
Crystal habits
Hardness /gravity /fracture
Color luster
Transparency of intent
A woman
A child
Include streaks /jagged/ isometric
Life of both sisters
an exchange/ a specimen /
mouth full
massive nuggets
settled turning up
Dance as these woman will
Rolled around in the various levels
of dust left behind by
the diggers
These are the women
shake loose all the dread
justification for preserving will bring a higher price
this is for the chance
these stories
trumped up with bribes
price it in its natural state
Something to believe
With a justice of quantity and a relevance of glow
Want …Want Want…
More piles to store and take
All the waste can only expand it
There is the beautiful reflection
The beautiful
Replacement of fear
Glitter a whisper
Did you say they all were sold?
You will never find them again for such a good price
This is the third time they have turned a wife into better coinage
Could get more for a better one every time
Their value dropped
Flecks of color at the bottom of her shroud
Shiny foils roil in acid
Such beauty at first
Such shine out of the dark
To master the a house
To mine
The promise of
To wrench
the life in stone
for trade
for want
for acid
There is measure for labor
These are the profits for digging into the earth’s veins
We touch each thing hungry and wanting
Delight curls uneven until the measure is declared
Please sing some new song every time
We are smiling for the price promised
We are smiling in every direction
I8 carats
We hold back
Pay the price you promised
Barter away freedom for power
Vow for the price they promised

August 18, 2011

Hey Big Spender!

By Gina Kundan

Gold diggers, temporary wives, and ravenous babes coming to a gold mine near you!

Mothers desperate to feed their families, young girls trafficked, entrepreneurs seeking adventure and fortune. They come as merchants, as cooks. Some come by choice, some by force. They come for the promise of high earning potential. They operate as “temporary wives” and community developers. On rare occasions women work side by side with men in the mines, but usually—bound by strict gender roles—women access gold by providing services, selling comfort, creating community, developing social stability, and generally ensuring the well being of male miners.

Indeed the “oldest profession,” you’d be hard pressed to find any gold mine past or present that doesn’t have an accompanying sex “service” industry embedded in the social fabric of the surrounding community.   Within that society (like any other) is a strict hierarchy of stigma. Selling sex is all about intention and purpose. Out of work, out of options, need to feed your hungry children? Saintly martyr.  Like glamour and glitz and spending cash? Scandalous whore. Innocent 11 year old slave girl? Could go either way.  Love is apparently never part of this equation


August 16, 2011

Gold. Fire. Women's Sexuality... Thoughts?

By Chitra Vairavan

You know how when you enter that space of vulnerability, something hits you, melts you, makes you weak…that’s how I felt coming out of rehearsals and in life recently. Parallels in my life outside the studio and discussions and knowledge shared in the rehearsal space spurred these words and my own way of seeking clarity.

Bought, sold, traded, devalued, objectified, valued, stolen, appreciated, curing, “pure,” mythical, cultural, part of nature, and most of all it stretches infinitely under heat…under fire.

Bendy, fluid, spiritual, feared, destructive, beautiful, healing, and most of all allows for new growth.

…In relationship to women’s sexuality:
Do they pass through each other in relationship? Do they reflect each other? Do they inform each other? Are there similar experiences between the two? Are there different experiences? Are they one in the same, in a system of interactions where everything feeds off of each other, breaking the subject/object duality often used in the Western lens?

Are we controlled by gold or is gold controlling us? Are we gold? What does gold mean to you?
I don’t have the answers, but the abstract concepts and connections being made are inspiring to find friction in and work through. Appreciate the time spent. I believe there is true intimacy between women and gold, where objectivity doesn’t play a prominent role because the connections between both go far beyond that, considering our similar histories.

August 9, 2011

Delving Into Gold

By Gina Kundan

In our developmental process, dancers have unearthed an astonishing amount of information relating to gold. We use this material not only to educate ourselves about the subject matter, but to dig deep and examine the complex emotionality that motivates and inspires our work. Research, presentations, and discussions lead to choreographic workshops and ultimately create the emotional arc that serves as the foundation for Ananya Dance Theatre’s productions.

continued →

August 4, 2011

Designing Tushaanal: Elements of Gold

By Annie Katsura Rollins

Working with ADT is a gift as a designer.  The content, the ideas, the inspiration and the team; all of it is the kind of stuff that makes you want to put pen to paper and paper to stage.  This year, working on Tushaanal, has been no different.  After the close of Kshoy! in fall last year, we quickly got to work on this years production.  The timing of this design was truncated and hurried, as I was off to China in the beginning of February for a year on a Fulbright fellowship to research Chinese shadow puppetry.

continued →

August 2, 2011

Illuminations from Soraya M.

By Renee Copeland

I watched the film “The Stoning of Soraya M.” as research for last year’s production, Kshoy! Now, in this new project, Tushaanal, Soraya’s story persists in my mind, and I realize this is not a “new” project. Nothing is new when it comes to stories of violence and greed, told repeatedly with ragged breath by history.

continued →

July 15, 2011

ADT's “Tushaanal: Fires of Dry Grass” Debut at Southern Theater

ADT Opens the Southern Theater Season
September 8-11 with “Tushaanal: Fires of Dry Grass”

The second piece in a four-year, anti-violence project exploring
the experiences of women of color across the globe.

April 8, 2011

HOT off the Press...Ananya Chatterjea awarded prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography

Minneapolis, Minnesota-Ananya Chatterjea, founder of Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT), has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. According to the foundation’s website,  “The Fellowships are awarded to men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.”

Chatterjea will celebrate the Fellowship during an ADT Fundraiser on Monday, April 11, at the Southern Theater, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (For additional information, contact During the fundraiser, the company will perform an excerpt from the new work “Tushaanal: Fires of Dry Grass,” the second piece in a four-year anti-violence project exploring the experiences of women of color across the globe. The piece premieres at the Southern Theater in September. The fundraising event also includes a performance by Laurie Carlos, an excerpt from last year’s “Kshoy/Decay,” and a discussion of the singular choreographic technique Chatterjea’s developed to kinetically communicate with audiences.

March 12, 2011

Support ADT!

Join us for a dynamic preview of
“Tushaanal: Fires of Dry Grass”

A Fundraiser for Ananya Dance Theatre
Monday, April 11
6 – 8 p.m.
Southern Theater
1420 Washington Avenue S.

Engage in lively conversation with Ananya and the dancers.

Admission: $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, $750, $1000 or more!
Price includes food, wine, and a chance to win
two tickets to “Tushaanal: Fires of Dry Grass.”

RSVP by Friday, April 1 to
Ananya Dance Theater
Or make a donation online