Neel: Blutopias of Radical Dreaming

Neel is about women’s dreams: dreams that unleash tremendous joy; shattered dreams; the imaginative labor that conjures up the most unlikely but exciting dream-visions; and dreams of wholeness and freedom that sound the call for revolution.

REVIEW:

“Ananya Dance Theatre is leading a revolution on the Cowles Center stage this weekend. “Neel: Blutopias of Radical Dreaming” explores the transformative power of women’s dreams. It begins as a descent into the stuff of nightmares and ends with the performers leading an exuberant celebration in the aisles.” – ‘Ananya shows dreams and dance in a potent combo,’ September 19, 2014, by Caroline Palmer, Star Tribune


World Premiere: September 18, 2014, The Cowles Center for Dance, Minneapolis MN

Running time: 90 minutes without intermission • Production employs simulated gunfire.

https://vimeo.com/114081038

Ananya Chatterjea: Concept, Choreography, Artistic Direction

Marcus Young: Directorial Collaborator

Greg Schutte: Score Composition, Arrangement, and Engineering

Jesse Cogswell: Lighting Design • Annie Katsura Rollins: Scenography and Costume Design

Performers: Ananya Chatterjea, Chitra Vairavan, Renée Copeland, Hui Niu Wilcox, Lela Pierce, Katie Haynes, Alexandra Eady, Kealoha Alex Ferreira, Magnolia Yang-Sao-Yia, Leila Awadallah, Prakshi Malik, with guest artist Shá Cage. Emma Marlar, understudy.

The score features contributions from Mankwe Ndosi, Chastity Brown, Dr. Pooja Goswami Pavan, Michelle Kinney, and Greg Schutte. The score also features recitation of excerpts from the Bengali poem Bidrohi, written by Kazi Nazrul Islam in 1921 (read by Ananya Chatterjea and Prachee Mukherjee), and text by Sharon Bridgforth.

Production Manager: Josina Manu Maltzman • Emma Marlar: Production Assistant

Annie Cady: Costume Construction • Anne Henly: Scenery Construction

Artistic Director/Choreographer’s Statement

Neel is about women’s dreams: dreams that unleash tremendous joy; shattered dreams; the imaginative labor that conjures up the most unlikely but exciting dream-visions; and dreams of wholeness and freedom that sound the call for revolution.

For more than a year, our artists explored the ways in which women from indigenous communities and global communities of color work through their dreams as a way of knowing the world and revealing its possibilities. So many realities of war, violence, and brutality impinged on our consciousness throughout our meditation on dreaming, reminding us both of the fragility of dreams and of their absolute necessity. Neel is based on our conviction that some of the most powerful dreaming comes from marginalized peoples, individuals whose desire for transformation cannot be suppressed. I am grateful for the rich contributions of all artists and collaborators who have together shaped the vision we offer in Neel.

Early on, I was inspired by Duke Ellington’s term Blutopia, the name for a short piece he made and recorded in 1944. For me, it suggested an epic imaginative leap, the vaulting of the imagination beyond presently known possibilities to a vision of a future entirely unknown, but not impossible. Such meditations pushed me to realize that such dreaming – tinged with the blues of past disappointments, pain, and loss, laced with an unshakable courage, and dogged by the possibility of failure – is radical practice. It is also the stuff of hope and change.

Neel is envisioned in three movements. The first traces the trauma surrounding broken dreams. The second articulates the labor of weaving dream-visions, pushing past fears, obstacles, and memories of failure and betrayal. The third journeys us towards a vision of wholeness, hope, and revolution.

Neel begins as a concert dance work and ends as a movement where the performers and audience find shared experience. It ends with a call for audiences to imagine the fulfilling of their cherished dream-visions and to join in our dance. In keeping with our value of #occupydance, we invite you to occupy dance and make it a vehicle for change and justice. We hope that the small, dream-gestures you dance with us will remain lodged in your skin and inspire you daily to move towards beauty and justice.

Dream-dancing, dancing dreams/ it sparks revolution, it starts our healing/ dance with us, birth your dream/ dance with us, trust the unseen.

I.  For We Must Dance Until We Die / Dark Matter / Thwarted Alchemies / Quagmire of Growls / Dhumavati’s Lesson / Wound Memories / Longing

II.  Samskara/imprints of past life / Sediments of Desire / At Camp’s Edge / Bhairavi’s Blessing / Tendril

III.  Dhumketu/the comet / Longing / Honey On Your Lips / Ichha/Desire / Maya/Play / This Revolution Is Danced