July 24, 2018

ArtChangeUS REMAP: Twin Cities, September 22-25

Join us from September 22-25, 2018 for ArtChangeUS REMAP: Twin Cities, an extraordinary opportunity to experience, expand, and connect! Immerse in artistic workshops with visionary artists and learn new approaches to cultural equity and community benefits.


REMAP begins with two days of participatory workshop intensives, September 23-24, led by stellar artists who are innovating methodologies at the nexus of art making and social change. Participants will include artists, organizers, educators, change makers and all who would like to add more creative methods to their work. Featured workshop artists are: choreographer Ananya Chatterjea, visual artist Seitu Jones, visual artist Rosalie López, ceramicist Cannupa Hanska Luger, playwright/director Meena Natarajan, theater director Dipankar Mukherjee, vocalist Rebecca Mwase, multidisciplinary artist Junauda Petrus, vocalist Ron Ragin, musician Dameun Strange and performing artist Carlton Turner.

REMAP will culminate in a forum, September 25, on equitable, sustainable arts-driven change, featuring a roundtable and small group conversations based on ArtChangeUS Cultural Community Benefits, introduced by Creative Many Director of Creative Industries Cézanne Charles. The roundtable will feature organizers, artists and grant makers from the Twin Cities and around the US, including: Penumbra Theatre Artistic Director Sarah Bellamy, The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations Program Officer Sharon DeMark, HRK Foundation Executive Director Kathleen Fluegel, Teatro del Pueblo Artistic Director Alberto Justiniano, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Program Director for the Arts Maurine Knighton, Artspace President Kelley Lindquist, The McKnight Foundation Arts Program Officer & Director of Artist Fellowships Arleta Little, Pangea World Theater Artistic Director Dipankar Mukherjee, Mu Performing Arts Artistic Director Randy Reyes, Jerome Foundation Program Director Eleanor Savage, Bush Foundation Community Creativity Portfolio Director Erik Takeshita, Grantmakers in the Arts President & CEO Eddie Torres, ArtChangeUS Director Roberta Uno, New Native Theater Founder & Artistic Director Rhiana Yazzie and others. Artistic share by visual artist Dyani White Hawk and performance by Ikidowin Youth Theater Ensemble.

ArtChangeUS REMAP: Twin Cities will take place in Minneapolis and St. Paul, two US cities in Mnisota Makoce on Dakota land. Minnesota is transforming: 19% of its residents are people of color, compared to about 1% in 1960.  The population of color in the Twin Cities region is expected to be at least 40% by 2040. REMAP was planned in collaboration with Ananya Dance Theater and Pangea World Theater.

ArtChangeUS is committed to creating an inclusive environment. This includes providing accommodations to make our event more accessible. If you need accommodations to fully participate in REMAP: Twin Cities, please include your needs on the registration form or email elizabeth@artchangeus.com

Content Advisory: Workshops and events at ArtChangeUS REMAP: Twin Cities may include explicit conversations about class- and race-based conflict, the Middle Passage, and substance abuse. Certain workshops will foster a supportive environment for personal story sharing.

November 11, 2017

ADT: "We're putting down roots to broaden our work with our communities"

Ananya Dance Theatre is establishing a new rehearsal and meeting facility for the research and development of works of dance theater and training of next generation dance artists of color.

ADT’s new home at 1197 University Avenue, St. Paul MN

We will lease space at 1197 University Avenue West, on the border of St. Paul’s Hamline-Midway and Union Park neighborhoods. Our target move-in date is February 1, 2018.

Your support on Give-to-the-Max-Day and through the end of 2017 will help us install a dance floor and make our new space ADA-compliant. We invite your financial gift in any amount.

We believe in the transformative power of dance.

We offer a vision and reflection of shared humanity and use art to call audiences into civic dialogue to re-imagine the world and build community.

Our activities are rooted in a commitment to a women-of-color framework that recognizes shared experiences and differences, goals of social justice and equity, and invites communities into artistic work where women of color occupy the center.

This area will be the 24′ x 42′ dance floor in ADT’s new home.

Our non-mainstream dance form and company model reflect “a United Nations of difference” among our artists, project participants, and audiences – different in gender, race, class, sexuality, age, and nationality/background.

Our dancers, artistic collaborators, and audiences represent the ethnic, cultural, immigrant, and of color communities that call Minnesota home: Indigenous, South, Southeast, and East Asian, Pacific Islander, African American, Latinx, Palestinian, Afro-Caribbean, African, and mixed race.

We combine the metaphor and poetry of Contemporary Indian Dance with social justice themes to create original dances that tell stories about the lives and dreams of women around the world and inspire audiences through visual and emotional engagement.

Please join our movement today!







September 20, 2017

ADT national convening investigates definitions of "contemporary dance"

Ananya Dance Theatre hosted Curatorial Conversations: Multiplicitous Contemporary, a convening led by Ananya Chatterjea and Michèle Steinwald, Sunday, September 17, at Open Book in Minneapolis.

Attendees at Multiplicitous Contemporary, Open Book, Minneapolis MN, Sept. 17, 2017. Photo by Toan Thanh Doan













This gathering was designed to engage discussion about the definitions of “contemporary dance” in response to ADT’s production of “Shyamali: Sprouting Words,” bring in perspectives from artists of color, and build a pluralistic, shared understanding of the term and its applications in curatorial practice.

Multiplicitous Contemporary was a focused, exploratory dialogue on curation with invited national leaders in the field of dance and performance, ready to investigate the ways in which racism structures understandings of “innovation,” “tradition,” “cultural specificity,” and community-engaged artistic process.

The discussion explored shared understandings of what constitutes “contemporariness” for artists of color and artists inventing new forms within culturally specific traditions, and interrogated the mismatch between such approaches and knowledge resources in the arts sector.

Multiplicitous Contemporary was supported in part by the McKnight Foundation and The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University. This activity is funded, in part, by an appropriation from the Minnesota Legislature with money from the State’s general fund.

In addition to Chatterjea and Steinwald, attendees included Philip Bither, Senior Curator, Performing Arts, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis MN; Eyenga Bokamba, Executive Director, Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis MN; Moira Brennan, Program Director, Multi-Arts Production Fund, New York NY; Marianne Combs, Arts Reporter, Minnesota Public Radio News, St. Paul MN; Amorette Crespo, Program Associate, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles CA; Shoshona Currier, Director, Bates Dance Festival, Lewiston ME; Thomas DeFrantz, Professor, Department of African and African American Studies, Professor, Program in Dance, and Professor, Theater Studies, Duke University, Durham NC; Colleen Furukawa, Vice President-Programming, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului HI; Anna Gallagher-Ross, Curator, Fusebox Festival, Austin TX; Melanie George, Audience Education & Dramaturg, Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts, New York NY; Tracie D. Hall, Director, Culture Program, The Joyce Foundation, Chicago IL; Brooke Ellen Horejsi, Assistant Dean/Executive Director, UtahPresents, University of Utah, Salt Lake City UT; Liz Ivkovich, Graduate Research Fellow & Teaching Assistant, and Education, Communication & Research Coordinator, University of Utah Sustainability Office, Salt Lake City UT; Arleta Little, Program Officer & Director of Artists Fellowships, McKnight Foundation, Minneapolis MN; Dayna Martinez, Artistic Director, World Music, Dance and the International Children’s Festival, The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, St. Paul MN; Sara C. Nash, Program Director, Dance, National Dance Project, New England Foundation for the Arts, Boston MA; Wendy Perron, Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher, Writer, Editor & Dance Addict, New York NY; Carla Peterson, Director, The Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, Florida State University School of Dance, Tallahassee FL; Gary Peterson, Managing Director, Ananya Dance Theatre, Minneapolis MN; Shelley Quiala, Vice President, Arts Education & Community Engagement, The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, St. Paul MN; Ramon Rivera Servera, Department Chair, Associate Professor, and Director of Graduate Studies, Performance Studies, Northwestern University, Evanston IL; Eleanor Savage, Program Director, Jerome Foundation, St. Paul MN; Arshiya Sethi, Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Fellow from India, Independent Scholar, Managing Trustee, Kri Foundation; Kathleen Spehar, Director, The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, St. Paul MN; Carlton Turner, Executive Director, Alternate ROOTS, Atlanta GA; Laurie Uprichard, Senior Curator of Performing Arts, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans LA; Marya Wethers, Dancer and Independent Manager, Producer & Curator; Director of International Initiatives, Movement Research, New York NY; and Marcus Young, Behavioral & Social Practice Artist, Collaborating Director, Ananya Dance Theatre, Minneapolis MN.

Members of Ananya Dance Theatre also joined the conversation: Leila Awadallah, Renée Copeland, Alexandra Eady, Kealoha Ferreira, Julia Gay, Felicia Perry, Hui Niu Wilcox, Alessandra Williams, Lizzette Chapa, and Toan Thanh Doan.

Chatterjea and Steinwald will host a condensed version of Multiplicitous Contemporary at the National Performing Arts / Visual Arts Network annual meeting in San Francisco in December 2017, and in two separate sessions at the APAP Conference in New York in January 2018.


July 19, 2017

New England Foundation for the Arts awards National Dance Project grant to Ananya Dance Theatre

(BOSTON, MA) The New England Foundation for the Arts has awarded $1,795,000 through the National Dance Project (NDP) to support the creation of 20 new dance works that will tour the United States.

Now in its third decade, NDP is widely recognized as one of the country’s major sources of funding for dance. NDP’s signature approach provides funding for both the creation and touring of works. A panel of national dance leaders, including artists and presenters, selected these projects out of 126 competitive applications through a two-round process. The choreographers and companies from around the country include nine U.S. artists who are first-time NDP grant recipients as well as one international collaboration. Each project will receive grants ranging from $40,000 to $45,000 for the creation of the new work, plus $10,000 in unrestricted general operating support for each artist recipient.  A total of $665,000 will be awarded to U.S. organizations to present these works when on tour.

“As a result of program and field research, NDP is moving forward with program design changes, including increased professional development, piloting a community engagement fund, and ways to incentivize presenters in areas that have not seen as much dance, and we continue to celebrate the core of the program: creation and touring of new dance work” said NEFA executive director Cathy Edwards.

NDP has invested more than $36 million in funding to artists and organizations to strengthen partnerships and bring dance into communities across the U.S. To date, NDP has supported the creation of over 412 new choreographic works that have toured to all 50 states and Washington, DC, reaching over 2.8 million audience members.

NEFA’s National Dance Project is generously supported with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with funding for special initiatives from the Barr Foundation, the Boston Foundation, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the French American Cultural Exchange, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Reva and David Logan Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The  2017 NDP Production grant recipients are: 

To learn more about the grantees and their projects, visit the directory of NDP projects with tour support available on www.nefa.org, look for the August 2017 National Dance Project publication available in early September.

About NEFA
The New England Foundation for the Arts invests in the arts to enrich communities in New England and beyond. NEFA accomplish­es this by granting funds to artists and cultural organizations; connecting them to each other and their audiences; and analyzing their economic contributions. NEFA serves as a regional partner for the National Endowment for the Arts, New England’s state arts agencies, and private foundations. Learn more at www.nefa.org.

June 8, 2017

Ananya Dance Theatre exhibiting at Arts Midwest

Ananya Dance Theatre will host a Marketplace exhibit booth at the Arts Midwest Conference in Columbus, Ohio, August 28-31.


Gary Peterson, managing director, Ananya Dance Theatre, will meet you in Booth #827 of Battelle Hall, Greater Columbus Convention Center.


Available for touring: “Shyamali: Sprouting Words” • NPN Touring Support Available

Photo by V. Paul Virtucio


Ananya Dance Theatre will present the world premiere of “Shyamali: Sprouting Words” as part of Women of Substance at The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, St. Paul, September 15-16, 2017. The work is the fourth in the company’s five year series on the theme “Work Women Do.”


Shyamali is a 90-minute dance that explores how dissent against oppression fuels life force. Inspired by the courage of women around the world to refuse silence and sustain communities against injustice, “Shyamali” means “dark green” in Bengali, and invokes the resilience of grass, which springs up when trod upon.


Shyamali is structured in three acts and questions the audience’s relationship to the stage. Act One invites community members, drawn from workshop participants, on stage to witness as dancers enter from the auditorium. A moment of co-creation with the local community, the interactions with the dancers are spontaneous. A vocalist calls for renewal out of loss, and guides audience members to their seats.


Act Two unearths “moving as grass,” women rising up, fast footwork in protest, female intimacy/love as political action, and reckons with the emotional toll of being in continuous dissent.


The final act draws upon Chatterjea’s time among Standing Rock water protectors, and pays homage to the power and potential of peaceful, ceremonial, and spiritual protest with looping phrases, abstract mudras, and yogic breath work as performers take their stand among the audience.


“Shyamali: Sprouting Words” is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, Pittsburgh, PA, in partnership with the Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia, PA, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului, HI, the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA, The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN, and NPN. The Creation Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). The Forth Fund is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For more information: www.npnweb.org.


In addition to our home theater, residencies and performances have been confirmed at all four venues, along with a confirmed presentation at UtahPresents! at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.


We are creating Shyamali to work artistically with a minimum of eight dancers, though the full 13 performers are available when possible. Our tour ensemble will include eight performers (includes Chatterjea) and a production manager who will direct load-in/load-out and call light and sound cues.


Available for touring: “Shaatranga: At the Edge of New Worlds”

Ananya Chatterjea • Photo by Ryan Stopera


“Shaatranga” will premiere in Fall 2018 at The O’Shaughnessy, St. Paul. This dance will be the capstone of Ananya Chatterjea’s five-year exploration of the theme, “Work Women Do.” As ancient trade routes across Asia, the Indian Ocean, and silk routes map the spread of cotton and indigo through colonial to contemporary times, the production and distribution of blue jeans serves as metaphor for the journeys of women of color throughout history to achieve justice.


For more information: gary.peterson@ananyadancetheatre.org • 612.486.2238.



May 1, 2017

Dance/USA awards Engaging Dance Audiences grants to 21 organizations







Engaging Dance Audiences is administered by Dance/USA and made possible with generous funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.




Washington, DC –  Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance, is pleased to announce that Engaging Dance Audiences (EDA), the national funding program focused on refining and sharing dance audience engagement practices, will award $1,112,000 in funding to 21 organizations. The 21 grantees from 11 states were selected through a rigorous national review by a peer panel.  Since EDA’s inception in 2008, Dance/USA has awarded more than 70 grants and related assistance totaling over $5 million. EDA was established through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. See the list of grantees here.


Building on past rounds, the emphasis in this fourth round of EDA is on refining existing engagement programs that have shown success at reaching dance audiences and communities. EDA round four grantees feature projects that meet one of two objectives: 1) The projects refine an existing engagement program, focusing on the quality of the experience for the participating audience or community. 2) The organizations have a track record of engaging African, Latina/o, Asian, Arab, and/or Native American audiences, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, communities of faith, or incarcerated people and/or their families.


“We are very grateful to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s commitment to audience engagement practices in the national dance field,” said Dance/USA Executive Director Amy Fitterer. “I am enthusiastic that EDA Round Four will support a wide range of grantees and projects that continue to reach specific audiences and address important societal issues.  We look forward to continuing to share the learning of Engaging Dance Audiences with the broader field.”


EDA Round Four grantees include dance companies, presenters, and service organizations, and represent a range of budget sizes and business models, from those that are fiscally sponsored to multi-million dollar nonprofits. In order to engage with a wide range of audiences, grantees will partner with a range of organizations such as middle and high schools, community colleges, historically Black colleges and universities, museums, churches, neighborhood advisory committees, city agencies, parks, senior centers, and cultural/community centers. The cohort of grantees represents a broad spectrum of dance forms and styles, including African, ballet, Bharatanatyam, hip-hop, Irish, Mexican folkloric, movement-theater, Odissi, physically integrated, samba, stepping, tap and other percussive forms, and a wide range of contemporary forms of expression.


EDA Round Four grantees and projects include the following:


“This new round of Dance/USA EDA funding reaches a robust mix of forms, geographies and communities of concern, vividly illustrating the variety of settings within which audiences can connect to dance,” said Maurine Knighton, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “We are pleased to support Dance/USA in sustaining and growing the vibrancy of dance in communities around the country.”


The $1,112,000 total grant support includes $876,000 in grantee project support and $236,000 in grantee core operating support.  The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation generously offers the core operating support to provide greater stability to the arts sector and to deepen its commitment to groups identified as leaders.


Visit the Dance/USA website for a full list of the EDA Round Four Grantees and the project descriptions, and information about the review panel.


The EDA Project Manager is Suzanne Callahan, founder of Callahan Consulting for the Arts, who has managed EDA and other re-granting programs for Dance/USA and other organizations.


About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research, and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The Arts Program of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz, and theatre artists, and the organizations that nurture, present, and produce them. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org.


About Dance/USA
We believe that dance is essential to a healthy society, demonstrating the infinite possibilities for human expression and potential, and facilitating communication within and across cultures. We are committed to honoring, nurturing and advancing dance through the lens of diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity in all aspects of our programming, services and organization.


Dance/USA is the national service organization for the professional dance field. Established in 1982, Dance/USA sustains and advances professional dance by addressing the needs, concerns, and interests of artists, administrators, and organizations. By providing national leadership and services, Dance/USA enhances the infrastructure for dance creation and distribution, education, and dissemination of information. Learn more about Dance/USA by visiting our website, www.danceusa.org.












December 30, 2016

Laurie Carlos, 1949-2016

Laurie Carlos (r) and Ananya Chatterjea, 2011 • Photo V. Paul Virtucio

Laurie Carlos was introduced to Ananya Dance Theatre through workshops she conducted in 2001, and was credited as co-creator, collaborator, and performer for the productions of “Kshoy!/Decay!” (2010), “Tushaanal: Fires of Dry Grass” (2011), and “Moreechika: Season of Mirage” (2012).

A native of New York City’s Lower East Side, Carlos became a seminal American theater artist and original player in NYC’s avant-garde performance scene, and developed new characters and aesthetics for the stage for more than 40 years.

A gifted writer, her oft-anthologized pieces, including “White Chocolate,” “The Cooking Show,” and “Organdy Falsetto,” represented daring and successful forays into abstract aesthetics.

She received an OBIE Award for Lady In Blue, the role she created in Ntozake Shange’s “for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf.” She won two New York Dance and Performance Awards (Bessie Awards) as choreographer of “White Chocolate” and “Heat.”

Her work as a collaborating poet, dramaturg, and performer with the Urban Bush Women is the stuff of performance legend. She was a unique director, who helmed the premieres of new work by writers Sharon Bridgforth, Carl Hancock Rux, Lourdes Perez, Sue Lori Parks, Zell Miller III, and Daniel Alexander Jones.

Laurie Carlos, 2010 • Photo V. Paul Virtucio

Carlos, along with Robbie McCauley and Jessica Hagedorn, formed the performance group Thought Music in the mid-1980s, producing the revolutionary performance work “Teenytown.”

With Ananya Chatterjea and Marilyn Amaral, Carlos created a dance poem, “Marion’s Terrible Time of Joy,” in 2003.

Laurie Carlos, 2010 • Photo Virtucio

Carlos worked as co-artistic director with Marlies Yearby at Movin’ Spirits Dance Company, as an Artistic Fellow at Penumbra Theatre, curated the “Non-English Speaking Spoken Here” series at Pillsbury House Theatre, and served as project manager for The Naked Stages series at Intermedia Arts.

Carlos received financial grants and awards for her work from the New York Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and Theatre Communications Group. The Bush Foundation named her a Bush Fellow in 2004.

She served on the Jerome Foundation board of directors for nine years.

December 8, 2016

Joyce Foundation awards O'Shaughnessy $50,000 grant to produce new work from Ananya Dance Theatre

Ananya Chatterjea • Photo by V. Paul Virtucio

The O’Shaughnessy is one of two Minnesota organizations awarded a $50,000 grant to support collaborations with artists of color from the Joyce Foundation‘s annual awards competition. The Minnesota Center for Book Arts was also an award winner.

The Joyce Awards is the only program supporting artists of color in major Great Lakes cities. The Chicago-based foundation has awarded nearly $3 million to commission 55 new works since the program started in 2003.

The O’Shaughnessy will commission Ananya Chatterjea, artistic director of Ananya Dance Theatre, to develop and stage a new production called “Shaatranga” in 2018. Meaning “seven-colored” in Chatterjea’s native Bengali, the work will celebrate women’s labors as community sustainers and change agents, using blue jeans as metaphor for shared humanity and the multifaceted and different journeys of women of color to achieve justice. The 18-month collaboration will include students from St. Kate’s and refugees living in the Twin Cities.

“This support from The Joyce Foundation will broaden the collaboration that The O’Shaughnessy and Ananya Dance Theatre began in 2012 to share women’s stories through performance and inspire passion for justice around the globe,” says Kathleen Spehar, executive director of The O’Shaughnessy. “The ‘Shaatranga’ collaboration – deepening dialogue with St. Catherine students and our community – will amplify the collective voices of women.”

A distinctive feature of the Joyce Awards is that a winners’ work must include the process of engaging community members to inform and shape their art. Community forums, workshops, panel discussions, social media input and one-on-one conversations will help influence each artist’s final presentation.

“It is exciting to see such a powerful focus not only on the creative aspects of these works, but also on how the artists plan to involve diverse communities in their development and presentation,” said Ellen Alberding, president of The Joyce Foundation. “We are confident these productions will do a great job of telling stories that can foster civic participation and cross-cultural understanding, and we are proud to support them and showcase the artistic talent of the Great Lakes region.”

​Additional 2017 award winners

The Cuyahoga Community College Foundation in Cleveland won a Joyce Award to commission new jazz work by Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer, Terence Blanchard. The Free State Theater in Chicago will commission a new play, Meet Juan(ito), from playwright Ricardo Gamboa. Finally, Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music will commission Quantum Music/Englewood from musicians Ernest Dawkins and Rahul Sharma.

December 6, 2016

National Performance Network's Creation Fund will co-commission ADT's "Shyamali"

The National Performance Network (NPN), including the Visual Artists Network (VAN), is a national organization supporting artists in the creation and touring of contemporary performing and visual arts.

The NPN has made a FY2017 Creation Fund Award to Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT) for the production of “Shyamali: Sprouting Words,” co-commissioned by the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, Pittsburgh, PA, Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia, PA, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului, HI, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA, and The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN.

The Creation Fund Award to ADT is $19,000.


Photo by James Davies

“Shyamali” is an evening-length dance work created by ADT and inspired by the ways that women across the world repeatedly talk back and embody dissent against injustices, despite daunting consequences.

“Shyamali” will receive its world premiere performances at The O’Shaughnessy in September 2017.

Weaving movement with text, speech, breath and song, “Shyamali” will create a rich, multi-lingual performance celebrating the histories and stories of women’s courageous acts that may have slipped through the bonds of public memory. The metaphorically staged, juxtaposed stories in this work will be choreographed in Yorchha, the company’s unique vocabulary of contemporary Indian American dance, and will be produced through collaborations with several design artists.

The creation of “Shyamali” will proceed through a community-engagement process and will incorporate several strategies for audience engagement during the performance.

Support for the research and development of new performances is rare, and funding sources often require artists and presenters to define new works before that process has even begun. The Creation Fund was established to provide direct and unencumbered assistance to the process of creation and to encourage others to do the same.

The NPN Creation Fund contributes a minimum of $13,000 directly to artists toward the commissioning of new work. NPN Partners apply for Creation Fund support for projects by artists who live either outside or inside the initiating NPN Partner’s community. This flexibility encourages NPN Partners to work with emerging artists in their own communities while introducing and promoting these artists’ work to the NPN Partners at large.

Click here for more information about Creation Fund Projects.

npn-van-logo-color-rgb“Shyamali: Sprouting Words” is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, Pittsburgh, PA, in partnership with the Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia, PA, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului, HI, the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA, The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN, and NPN. The Creation Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). The Forth Fund is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For more information: www.npnweb.org.

September 24, 2016

Choreographing resistance; Resisting definitions: Ananya's contemporary Odissi and her pledge to social change

Reprinted with permission of Pulse Autumn 2016 – Issue 134

Elena Catalano is an odissi practitioner and a social anthropologist who teaches dance at Kingston University. She has been searching for a theoretical framework in which to anchor her practice and came across a model she wanted to explore, proposed by Ananya Chatterjea.


Ananya Chatterjea, Kingston upon Thames. Photo by Simon Richardson

Ananya Chatterjea (at right), Kingston upon Thames. Photo by Simon Richardson











– By Elena Catalano


I met Ananya Chatterjea for the first time in 2009 while searching for bibliographic resources on Indian classical dance. She was there on the pages of her book speaking of choreographies of resistance, weaving a feminist reading of Chandralekha’s work. At that time my personal journey with odissi had just begun. I had learned a few basic moves, but I was unfamiliar with Indian classical dance at large, and even less with the politics that had created and sustained its aesthetics. Yet, the complexity of the style and the challenges it posed fascinated and motivated me to deepen my understanding of the form.


It was in this attempt to know more about odissi and to confront my new-born passion with a dance style apparently so alien to my cultural background that I entered into a conversation, albeit for long more imaginary than real, with Ananya Chatterjea. I started to talk to her through her writings and discuss with her through the clips of her choreographic works. More recently, I introduced and discussed her work with my dance students at Kingston University. Ananya’s voice and bodiliness have long haunted my relationship with odissi in a consistent, although indirect and sometimes even troubled way.


Ananya, who is now Professor of Dance at the University of Minnesota and Artistic Director of Ananya Dance Theatre, is not only one of the very few academics to have extensively trained in odissi; she is also an active practitioner and a rigorous intellectual who carefully appraises the pernicious effects of established narratives and everyday vocabulary. In her numerous writings, she confronts the patriarchal underpinnings of traditional aesthetics. In her choreographic practice, she endorses the voices and experiences of women of colour.


Ananya Chatterjea, Kingston upon Thames. Photo by Simon Richardson

Ananya Chatterjea, Kingston upon Thames. Photo by Simon Richardson

Ananya contests several aspects of the traditional aesthetics, yet she is committed to developing a contemporary language that refuses the cultural imperialism of Western contemporary dance. Ananya is an activist and a feminist who uses her artistic practice as a tool for provoking social awareness and change. She has developed a very personal movement vocabulary, Yorchha, which, while rooted in the classical form of odissi, chhau and yoga, is compelling, fearless and unique in its results. Her choreographic work sits now at the margin of both the classical and the contemporary dance scenes, although quite resistant to fitting easily into any of these categories.


When I met Ananya for the first time through the pages of her writings and the clips of her choreographies, I felt at the same time deeply fascinated and somehow unsettled by her bold and brave statements. As a Western woman, trained as an adult in India, I did not feel particularly inclined to political and even less to feminist arguments. However, Ananya’s articles were explicitly confronting me, posing difficult questions, provoking further uneasiness in my already uneasy embodiment of the form. Her voice was haunting the relationship with my guru, the embodiment of the vocabulary, the learning of the classical repertoire, my daily practice. Perhaps Ananya was questioning the innocence of my passion for odissi. She was forcing me to wonder about the dynamics of power I was involved in, and even generating, as a white Western woman training in India.


Then, this year I had the opportunity to organise an Odissi Summer School at Kingston University. The school included traditional repertoire workshops led by Monica Singh. However I felt it was crucial that Ananya was somehow part of it. Despite being ground-breaking, Ananya’s choreographic work was surprisingly unknown to most idissi dance practitioners I had met. I wanted participants to be shaken and inspired by a woman who fearlessly pushed the boundaries of the dance form from within, through a physical and intellectual engagement with its aesthetics, holding a serious, sustained and politically-aware standpoint.


Ananya Chatterjea, Kingston upon Thames. Photo by Simon Richardson

Ananya Chatterjea (at right), Kingston upon Thames. Photo by Simon Richardson

Ananya was invited to give a lecture and a master-class as part of the Odissi Summer School. She talked about her journey within the dance form, growing up in the busy streets of Kolkata, under the traditional guru-shishya system. She then explained how the contrast between the glossing aesthetics of the dance and the harsh reality of Indian urban life made her feel uneasy with the traditional form and training system. She talked about how she became sensitive to the experience of women in Indian patriarchal society, and how after moving to the USA, she began to research the dance form and develop her own technique and choreographic language, inspired by street theatres and other Indian bodily vocabularies. Then, in the master-class, Ananya taught some of the basic principles of Yorchha, and a challenging excerpt from her own repertoire. It was with this dance material that we really had a first-hand understanding of the distinctive way she uses the body and energy in movement and her pedagogical approach to training. While physically and emotionally challenging, Ananya’s work provoked in all of us a new ay of understanding our relationship with the dance form and with our own practice.


Ananya’s contribution to the odissi world is greater than most are ready to understand and recognise. Her choreographic work should be showcased in the UK, and odissi dancers who are willing to explore the creative potential of this dance form should have the opportunity to work with Ananya. There is little doubt that her work will inspire many who want to fly outside the little cosy but somehow narrow cage the odissi community has created for itself.

July 27, 2016

MRAC selects Ananya Dance Theatre for 2016 Arts Achievement Award

Amy Crawford, Ananya Chatterjea, Peter Leggett

Amy Crawford, Ananya Chatterjea, Peter Leggett. Photo: Darren Johnson

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) selected Ananya Dance Theatre and the Caponi Art Park as recipients of the 2016 MRAC Arts Achievement Award.

The awards were presented by Amy Crawford, executive director, and Peter Leggett, board president, during MRAC’s annual meeting, July 26, held at the Soo Visual Arts Center in Minneapolis.

Ananya Chatterjea, artistic director, accepted the award for Ananya Dance Theatre. Cheryl Caponi, executive director, accepted on behalf of Caponi Art Park.

MRAC’s Arts Achievement Award recognizes two organizations each year that exemplify its mission of increasing access to the arts in the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area.



July 25, 2016

Ananya Dance Theater performs at Little Mekong Night Market


Christopher Yang, board chair, Center for Hmong Arts and Talent

Ananya Dance Theatre performed at the 3d annual Little Mekong Night Market in St. Paul, July 24. The performance was part of two days of events programmed on the Mystic Lake Casino Stage by the Center for Hmong Arts & Talent.

Dancing at Little Mekong

Ananya Dance Theatre at Little Mekong Night Market, July 24, 2016

Little Mekong Night Market is the Twin Cities’s Asian-inspired twilight street market, located in the heart of the Little Mekong District near the Western Avenue Green Line LRT Station.

Little Mekong is the Asian business and cultural district in Saint Paul. Located between Mackubin and Galtier streets along University Avenue, the district boasts a diversity of cultures, top rated restaurants, and unique shopping experiences. The neighborhoods around Little Mekong include Frogtown and Summit-University.

June 30, 2016

NBC News highlights Ananya Dance Theatre's fundraising campaign

NBC News has highlighted Ananya Dance Theatre’s “Dancing to Heal” fundraising campaign in a news report, ‘Dances of Transformation’: Ananya Dance Theatre Finds Justice Through Movement, by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang posted July 20.

Ananya Dance Theatre launched the crowdsource campaign on the Indiegogo platform to support “Horidraa: Golden Healing,” its 2016 production that explores healing practices and women’s work as healers. The production will premiere at The O’Shaughnessy in St. Paul, September 16-17, 2016.

The campaign has a goal of $10,000. Follow this link to learn more and to donate.

The campaign launched with a fundraising party attended by more than 130 people at Du Nord Craft Spirits in Minneapolis, June 28. In its first 36 hours, the campaign raised $4,885 in online donations. As of July 29, $8,500 has been raised online from 158 donors.

[Original post was updated July 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 29, 2016.]

Horidraa Alessandra








May 22, 2016

Ananya Dance Theatre at Hindu Society of Minnesota 10th anniversary

Members of Ananya Dance Theatre performed Odissi dance in a contemporary format at the Hindu Temple of Minnesota in Maple Grove, May 21. The presentation was made on the second day of Brahmotsavan at the invitation of the Hindu Society of Minnesota for its 10th anniversary.

Hindu 1

Ananya Dance Theatre at Hindu Temple of Minnesota, May 21, 2016. Photo by Prabha Venkataram

Hindu Society

l-r: Lela Pierce, Prakshi Malik, Renée Copeland, Ananya Chatterjea, James Galtney, Kealoha Ferreira. May 21, 2016.









May 21, 2016

Ananya Dance Theatre performs at Fitzgerald Theater for MPR 'Art Hounds Live'

At the invitation of Marianne Combs and MPR News, Ananya Dance Theatre shared The Fitzgerald Theater stage in Saint Paul with Minnesota Artists from Duluth to Lanesboro, May 20, 2016.

Backstage at Fitzgerald

ADT backstage at The Fitzgerald Theater. Back l-r: Prakshi Malik, Renée Copeland, Gary Peterson (managing director); Center l-r: Magnolia Yang Sao Yia, Kealoha Ferreira, Jay Galtney, Leila Awadallah; Front l-r: Hui Wilcox, Ananya Chatterjea.

The occasion, hosted by Combs, was an Art Hounds Live showcase in a cabaret style performance featuring live music, dance, theater, comedy, film, visual art, and animation. The event was also a “Thank You” to the hundreds of Minnesotans who have been Art Hounds over the years, volunteering their time to share their enthusiasm with MPR audiences.



May 10, 2016

Choreographing Equity/Staging Social Justice

Ananya Choreo Equity 6 copy

Choreographing Equity / Staging Social Justice

Ananya Chatterjea conducted a “Choreographing Equity/Staging Social Justice” workshop at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, May 10, 2016. The workshop was conducted for Arts in a Changing America, part of the four-day Placemaking Residency: Design for Equity, held at a variety of Twin Cities venues and organized by the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation.

The participatory workshop used movement and text-based strategies to imagine and embody what justice might look and feel like.


May 1, 2016

Ananya Dance Theatre dances May Day Parade route in Minneapolis

ADT pre parade Photo by Gary Peterson

Pre-parade gathering, May 1, 2016. Photo by Gary Peterson

For a second consecutive year, members of Ananya Dance Theatre danced the length of the annual May Day Parade in South Minneapolis, May 1, 2016. The parade is organized and sponsored by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre.

This year, the ADT dancers were joined by 33 members of the Jumping Jets Drill Team & Drum Squad, based in Saint Paul.


Jets and ADT 3 Photo by Almeda Harvey Childs

Jumping Jets Drill Team & Drum Squad. Photo by Almeda Harvey Childs

The May Day Parade route follows Bloomington Avenue in Minneapolis and is followed by a festival in Powderhorn Park. Approximately 50,000 people attend the parade and festival.


April 15, 2016

"Best choreographer: Ananya Chatterjea" Star Tribune


April 14, 2016

Engaging with Leadership Twin Cities

Performing for Leadership Twin Cities in The Ordway's Drake Room.

Performing for Leadership Twin Cities in The Ordway’s Drake Room.

Members of Ananya Dance Theatre performed for the Leadership Twin Cities annual Arts Day, held at The Ordway Center in St. Paul, April 14.

Leadership Twin Cities is a nine-month series that informs people about the critical issues facing our community. Its focus is to inform and inspire future leaders – and challenge them to make a difference through personal commitment and involvement.

"Warming up" in St. Paul's Rice Park, across the street from The Ordway Center.

“Warming up” in St. Paul’s Rice Park, across the street from The Ordway Center.

The program is for individuals seeking to learn about community issues and to discuss solutions to the problems. The program selects approximately 50 people each year from the public, private and non-profit sectors who share a commitment to improving our community.

Leadership Twin Cities also creates opportunities for participants to form relationships with classmates, making it a lasting experience.


March 30, 2016

A day of cultural activism in Saint Paul, Minnesota

Members of Ananya Dance Theatre performed at Saint Paul College, part of a day-long rally against violence, March 30. The day was sponsored by Mending the Sacred Hoop, Men as Peacemakers, Minnesota Alliance on Crime, Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition.

ADT at St. Paul College by J Davies

ADT at Saint Paul College. March 30, 2016. Photo by James Davies

Oncoming march by G Peterson

Marchers from Saint Paul College to the Capitol Lower Mall, St. Paul MN, part of a day-long rally against violence. March 30, 2016. Photo by Gary Peterson

Ananya Speaking by J Davies

Ananya Chatterjea speaks against violence. The Capitol Lower Mall, St. Paul. At far left: MC Patti Larsen, Mending the Sacred Hoop, Duluth MN. March 30, 2016. Photo by James Davies

Woman with sign by J Davies

The Capitol Lower Mall, St. Paul. March 30, 2016. Photo by James Davies

Drum Circle by A Chatterjea

Rally ended with a Round Dance, sponsored by Native Lives Matter. March 30, 2016. Photo by Ananya Chatterjea