Dastak: I Wish You Me

Dastak is a meditation on borders, loss, belonging, home, and liberation. Structured through four elemental journeys, Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, the work traces the knockings (dastak, in Farsi) of global injustices on our hearts, and echoes the subtitle created by writer Sharon Bridgforth – I Wish You Me – indicating the cross-generational love that has carried communities through difficult migrations. Dastak invites viewers to imagine what freedom is possible as it expands the realms of intention and trans-dimensional connection through spells that invoke rest, forgiveness, love, and freedom.

World Premiere: October 29, 2021, The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, St. Paul, Minnesota

Running Time: 75 minutes, without intermission

Concept, Choreography:  Ananya Chatterjea

Stage Director:  Marcus Young

Dramaturg:  Sharon Bridgforth

Composer/Sound Designer/Instrumentalist/Vocalist:  Spirit McIntyre

Performers:  Noelle Awadallah, Lizzette Chapa, Ananya Chatterjea, Alexis Araminta Reneé, Alexandra Eady, Kealoha Ferreira, Annielille Gavino, Spirit McIntyre, Parisha Rajbhandari, Erica Jo Sherwood, Alessandra Williams, Laichee Yang

American Sign Language Interpreter (Oct. 29):  Hercules E. Goss-Kuehn

Costume Design:  Annie Cady

Lighting Design:  Kevin A. Jones

Scenic & Prop Design and Construction:  Chelsea Warren

Media Design:  Darren Johnson, Northern Dawn Media

Artistic Director, Choreographer, Dancer: Ananya Chatterjea

Artistic Associate:  Kealoha Ferreira

Rehearsal Assistant:  Alexandra Eady

Production Manager:  Emma Marlar

Graphic Design:  Laichee Yang

Bookkeeping:  Gillian Martin, Clarity Bookkeeping, LLC

Public Relations:  Anne Q. Ulseth, Aqua Public Relations

Photography:  Isabel Fajardo, Bruce Silcox

Photo by Bruce Silcox

 

Dastak is a meditation on borders, loss, belonging, home, and liberation. Structured through four elemental journeys, Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, the work traces the knockings (dastak, in Farci) of global injustices on our hearts, and echoes the subtitle created by writer Sharon Bridgforth – I Wish You Me – indicating the cross-generational love that has carried communities through difficult migrations. Dastak invites viewers to imagine what freedom is possible as it expands the realms of intention and trans-dimensional connection through spells that invoke rest, forgiveness, love, and freedom.

 

from Ananya Chatterjea, artistic director, choreographer

Two years in the making, Dastak is the accumulation of many stories, many struggles for justices, and many losses. In the end, Sharon Bridgforth’s iconic line – I wish you me – articulated in Air and sung over and over by our beloved Spirit McIntyre, came to be the lifeline of the work, reminding us to imbue our dancing with the love and light of generations, to see each other, and hold each other and those around us with care.

It is in the spirit of that prayer that I offer Dastak, and especially my solo in Fire. During our first residency at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography in Tallahassee, we had a wonderful opportunity to be in conversation with advocates from the Southern Poverty Law Center who reminded me of the importance of considering solitary confinement, which is the terrible experience of people deemed to be “without papers.” Ultimately, my solo is dedicated to so many women and femmes from marginalized communities, especially those who have suffered so much torture in state custody. Lal salaam in particular to Soni Sori, Safoora Zargar, Gulfisha Fatima, Nodeep Kaur, and many unnamed others: I dedicate my fire to you.

 

from Spirit McIntyre, composer, sound designer, instrumentalist, vocalist

Composing the soundscape of Dastak has been a physical, emotional, spiritual, energetic, and Ancestral undertaking. This work is a collection of many layers, histories, and influences: Oya, an Orisha or deity whose element is air, she governs the marketplace (abundance) and the cemetery (life/death) and symbol-izes the ‘winds of change’; Oshun, an Orisha or deity whose element is freshwater, she reminds of the ne-cessity of beauty, balance, sweetness, and forgiveness; Bols, derived from the Hindi word bolna ‘to speak,’ a mnemonic syllable used in Indian music to define the tala or rhythmic pattern and voiced by various dancers; Whispers and prayers, representing the omnipresent nature of Ancestors, guides, and our inner voice; and, finally, the natural sound elements of New Orleans, Louisiana, a place where nature speaks so boldly.

I have worked with dancers for the past 20 years and the majority of that work has been live composition through performance. Dastakis my first opportunity to create a score that combines live and pre-recorded composition as well as recorded found sounds. The brilliant choreography and storytelling of Dastak compelled me to build a sonically tactile world, one that supports and amplifies the ritual the dancers are engaging in while allowing the audience to join us as witnesses. My job was a clear one: “Honor the excellence and diligence of Ananya Chatterjea and her company with your own.” The relationship between a composer/musician and dancers is a sacred one; it requires curiosity, bravery, honesty, planning, communication, humbleness and intuition. I percussed, I cried, I sang, I embodied, I prayed, I released, and more. My Ancestors, Orisha and I thank Ananya Dance Theatre for the deep trust that was required to foster this new/Ancient connection.

 

from Sharon Bridgforth, dramaturg

Ananya Opens the roads.

Innovating from her roots/trained in Classical Odissi, the martial art Chhau, and Vinyasa/shaped by her blood Knowing of the Divine Feminine

committed to telling/elevating and supporting women’s stories globally

with her intensively trained/gifted/dedicated company members

Ananya lays the foundation – creates paths

for Fire to clear the way.

We collaborators were invited to join up

to bring our whole selves/our rooted traditions

and to contribute in the making.

For this project

before we entered the room

we were filled up.

With videos, music, images and research about

what happens to women and children at boarders/globally.

We were filled up

with the truth of what the atrocities of capitalism, failures of humanity,

and systemic patriarchy does to women and children.

We bore witness to the many ways that women and children are torn apart, maimed and murdered each and every day.

And we were filled up with information about women-led acts of rebellion, collective care, self-determining uprisings, the ways

that women have wielded Spiritual technologies based in Love

and we were reminded of historical fact that

the Divine Feminine has never been contained by gender.

We were filled up

to the point of not being able to hold

our rage, grief, fear, outrage

and might.

Filled up

we entered the room

ready

to conjure change.

As Ananya and her dancers

activated the Forces of Nature

through foot work

gestures

piercing eyes

and sound

each collaborator/in all aspects of the project

answered the call to do the Work that is ours to do.

We Worked

till our hearts burst and spilt out

all over and around

and we became streams of Light

inside the making of this piece

that Ananya conceived

and called us into.

We invite you to join us.

Bring your whole self.

Get filled up.

Let your heart burst.

Be the change

that is so critically required.

Now

 

Funding Credits

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Metro Regional Arts Council and the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Dastak is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA, in partnership with the Bates Dance Festival, Lewiston, ME, UtahPresents, Salt Lake City, UT, and NPN. The Creation & Development Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). For more information: www.npnweb.org

Dastak was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Production residency funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Dastak was developed with support from the Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Initiative funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation, and by Dance/USA Fellowships to Artists made possible with generous funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

The development of Dastak was made possible, in part, by the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University.

Dastak is 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 www.arts.gov.

Dastak is supported by a grant from the Marbrook Foundation.