Ananya Dance Theatre offers our annual two-week intensive training in our distinctive movement aesthetic, Yorchhā™, and choreographic practice, Shawngrām.
Yorchhā™ is our contemporary dance form: over twenty years of rigorous practice, Ananya Chatterjea has created a transnational feminist movement aesthetic that emerges from principles of Odissi (a traditional Indian dance technique); Chhau ( the martial art form from Odisha); and from Vinyasa Yoga. These ancient roots blossom into vivid, contemporary, innovative dance.
Shawngrām is our creative process for ensemble-based choreography; through Shawngrām, we share a mosaic of stories, articulate emotional landscapes, and build justice-based collectivity through movement.
Our 2024 Intensive Training will explore: How do we build connections across difference? In today’s polarized context, how can we reach back into history and forward into futurity to imagine a deeply interconnected present?
Schedule This intensive training meets every weekday for two weeks. Each meeting will begin with instruction in Yorchhā. Whether this is your first experience with Yorchhā or you have been practicing for multiple summers, we will meet you where you are, opening paths towards your individual excellence. After a brief break, the daily focus will shift to structured improvisational and choreographic processes.
At the end of the two weeks, you will be a part of a choreographic offering in front of a community audience (in-person and live-streamed.)
Ananya Dance Theatre seeks an experienced production manager with a heart for social justice; on an ongoing basis to coordinate and run the technical aspects of our dance theatre performances and workshops, at home and on tour. We are ready to build a recurring annual relationship that can grow with the company’s needs and the successful candidate’s desires for their future.
–Extended collaborative creation of new work: Jan-Sept.
–Annual premiere of approx 90 min work: Sept/Oct (in Saint Paul)
–Ongoing touring engagements: Jan – Nov. (Likely 2-3 engagements over the course of the year. Most engagements will be 3-5 days, though one might be a week+. Touring opportunities are always emerging, though we always have 2-3 months notice minimum, and we work through our company members’ non-ADT commitments.)
–December of each year – entire company is on break.
–Scheduling and facilitating meetings with designers/collaborators during extended collaborative process (Jan-Sept, annually.)
–Attending occasional rehearsals to be familiar with the work and facilitate the details of collaborative decisions (Jan-Sept, from very occasional in Jan to fully engaged in September. Rehearsals are evenings and weekends at our studio in Saint Paul, except for tech week.)
–Representing ADT to work effectively with venue production crews (at the O’Shaughnessy for premiere, and on tour)
–Calling or running lights/sound/backstage for performances (depending on venue: some provide staff, others may require you to run Qlab yourself. While you will not need to program lighting, sound, or video cues, you may need to troubleshoot.) Annual Fall premiere at the O’Shaugnessy and intermittent touring throughout Jan – Nov.
–Coordinating and communicating schedule and logistics (inc. transportation, lodging, as needed) for all live engagements (dancers, venue/community host, technical staff, etc.)
Our next full production is MICHHIL AMRA!: WE ARE THE PROCESSION!, premiering September 22-23, 2023 at The O’Shaughnessy at Saint Catherine University. This work is currently in creation/rehearsal.
–Competent knowledge of Qlab
–Experience with calling and running a live performance (dance, theatre, multidisciplinary, corporate events, etc.)
–Basic management experience, including motivating, problem-solving, and delegating
–Demonstrated ability to manage complex schedules and needs among 7-10 artist collaborators plus 12 company dancers.
–Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively verbally and in writing
–Nimble mind; the ability to project calm into complex and time-pressured situations (aka “live performance”); a joyful work ethic
–Full availability for tech week and premiere of MICHHIL (Sept 2023.)
–Available to tour internationally during the week following the premiere, Sept 27th – Oct 6th.
Experience and/or leadership in social justice community work
–Strong interpersonal management experience
–Background in anti-racist, anti-misogyny, and liberation work
–Background and/or demonstrated interest in dance
–Bachelor’s degree (in any field)
–Current driver’s license
–Current passport and international travel experience
Ananya Dance Theatre is committed to the full community inclusion of all people who live at all intersections of identity and experience; this role does not assume the absence of disability. If this role speaks to you, we strongly encourage you to apply.
This is an hourly “Work For Hire” annual contract.
Starting rate: $25/hour.
Touring: $150/day (expenses paid by ADT).
Estimated annual hours (to be scheduled as needed, heavily weighted towards Sept, includes touring): 300
Ananya Dance Theatre is a company of BIPOC women and femme artists who create original dance theatre at the intersection of artistic excellence and social justice. We premiere one major new work annually with original music, and offer workshops, dialogues, classes, and performances at home and on tour. We call audiences to join us in movement, dialogue, and action driven by shared humanity. Our work invites audiences to participate in our strategy of #occupydance, the movement of dancing as civic action. We conjure dance as a liberatory practice; a methodology for a just world; and a space where BIPOC women and femmes can belong and thrive. For more information, please visit our website: www.ananyadancetheatre.org.
Please express your interest with
–a one-page letter detailing your relevant experience and interest in the role
–a resume (if available; if not, a chronological list of your experiences.)
Please respond to Jennie Ward, Managing Director (she/her) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “ATTN: PROD MGR” in the subject line. Review of submissions will begin Monday May 1st and will continue until the position is filled.
This two-week intensive in ADT’s signature movement aesthetic, YORCHHĀ, and our choreographic practice, SHAWNGRĀM, will invite participants into building physical strength and emotional stamina through a daily movement practice. Yorchhā combines movement principles from Odissi, the traditional Indian dance technique; Chhau, the martial art form from Odisha; and from Vinyasa Yoga. Shawngrām is the creative process for ensemble-based choreography to share a mosaic of stories and emotional landscapes and build justice-based collectivity through movement. This year’s thematic focus takes its inspiration from community processions taking up public space to re-direct our relationships to power and each other.
The first half of each session will be dedicated to instruction in Yorchhā, with room for different levels of interpretation depending on participants’ familiarity with the form. Whether this is your first experience with Yorchhā or you have been practicing for multiple summers, we will meet you where you are to steer you towards individual excellence. The second half will be dedicated to structured improvisational and choreographic processes. The Intensive will culminate in a choreographic offering with opportunities for live streaming.
Our theme this year is “Processing to Re-frame.” We are inspired by the BIPOC organizers of The Uprising and other justice movements who interrupt constructed “normals” and publicly refuse to accept systemic violences. Processions are designed to reveal the potential of movement and dance as a methodology for organizing. Your participation will enrich our work and our commitment to route choreography through justice and community. We hope it will offer us all different provocations about the role of art and dance in civic life and movements for social change.
We are currently exploring an opportunity to offer the culminating performance as part of a procession across city streets in keeping with our theme of “processing to re-frame”, and in partnership with leaders from our BIPOC communities.
Ways to Participate: 1) In-person at the Shawngrām Institute (Limited Capacity) 2) Remotely, Via Zoom
Policies: • We accept applications on a rolling basis. However, due to the continuing pandemic and to ensure the safety of our community, we have to limit our in-person attendance. Participants will be confirmed on a first-applied first-accepted basis. • Students attending in-person classes must provide proof of up-to-date Covid-19 vaccination (booster required) and must wear face masks during class. No exceptions.
• All information we receive via the application will remain confidential.
• In Yorchhā instruction, corrections are offered primarily through verbal description. Should further clarification become necessary, instructors will ask before offering touch-based feedback.
• The Institute is located in an accessible building. We do our best to offer ASL interpretation and audio description to fit participant needs, so please describe your needs to us in your application.
• We will take access needs into consideration in the planning of “processional” performances.
Attendance: Your presence in this process has deep value to us and to your fellow participants. We expect everyone to attend all ten Intensive sessions, including both showings.
Attire: Yorchhā™ is a barefeet dance technique. Please be ready to dance without socks as well. Participants should wear comfortable clothing that allows for easy movement. However, we prefer clothing that allows teachers to see the joint lines clearly in order to offer feedback.
Tuition: • The total fee for this intensive is $650. Scholarships available! • Application fee/deposit of $50 (applied to total tuition fee) must be received before your application can be processed.
• A limited number of need-based scholarships are available. If you are awarded a scholarship, you will only pay the $50 application fee/deposit.
• Applications close on Monday, June 1, 2023. The $50.00, non-refundable deposit will be deducted from the tuition due.
• All tuition balances must be received by June 9, 2023. Once paid, tuition will not be refunded or pro-rated.
• Payment is via Paypal or check. Please indicate your payment preference in the application form.
• Upon acceptance, a Paypal invoice for any remaining balance will be emailed to the address provided.
• If you prefer to pay by check, please indicate on the form, make payable to “Ananya Dance Theatre”, and mail to P. O. Box 2427, Minneapolis MN 55402-0427.
Key Dates: Last to submit applications: Monday June 1, 2023. ADT responds to application and scholarship need in 10 days or fewer. $50 non-refundable deposit due Monday June 1, 2023. Balance of tuition due Monday June 9, 2023. First day of classes June 19, 2023
Ananya Dance Theatre announces the dates for our annual Summer Intensive:
June 19th – June 30th, 2023.
Ananya Dance Theatre’s Shawngrām Summer Intensive is a 2-week training program in St. Paul, Minnesota (4 hours/day, 5 days/week). It will introduce Yorchha™, our unique movement aesthetic, in technique classes that build in complexity over 2 weeks, and our particular choreographic process of creating dance from the stories of our lives.
This program is part of Ananya Dance Theatre’s ongoing commitment to train the next generations artists of color for professional engagement in dance.
Gary Peterson, managing director, will retire from day-to-day performing arts management on October 31, 2023. He will be working with his successors – Jennifer (Jennie) Ward as managing director and Hadiya Shire as operations manager – during the transition through October. Both Ward and Shire joined ADT on January 3.
Peterson (he/him/his–they/them/their) has been with ADT since 2009. In addition to his work as managing director of Ananya Dance Theatre and research collaborator with Dr. Ananya Chatterjea, he has been a part of Minnesota’s dance community for more than 40 years. He has served as dance student, consultant and as executive director of James Sewell Ballet, Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre, Zenon Dance Company and the Southern Theater.
Artistic Director Ananya Chatterjea said, “One of the most generative and life-giving collaborations of my artistic life has been with Gary Peterson. We walked towards each other from different directions in the dance field, different aesthetic lineages and different strengths. But from our shared questions centering around what is meaningful, excellent and what constitutes just practices in dance, we grew in a solid trust and reliance on each other. Gary’s expansive vision for the company, his guidance to me in moments of difficulty, his exhortations to move forward with courage are hugely responsible for the growth of the company. My gratitude is forever with him.”
Ward (she/her) is a local theater director/producer and community builder. She brings to ADT more than 25 years of experience working with professional, semi-professional and student artists in all types of venues, and at all scales and budgets. She has a BA from Knox College (Galesburg, IL) and an MFA in Directing from Moscow Art Theatre School/Harvard University Institute for Advanced Theatre Training.
Shire (she/her) is a writer and arts administrator from Minneapolis. Before joining ADT, Shire worked for Graywolf Press, The University of Minnesota Press, In Black Ink, Springboard for the Arts, and The Loft Literary Center. Her work in nonprofit administration, operations, finance and logistics have supported programming that provides artists with resources to build and sustain artistic communities. She holds a BA in English and Africana Studies from Vassar College.
In other staff news, after eight years as ADT’s production manager, Emma Marlar has left to pursue her own artistic interests. Jessie Storovich assumed Marler’s role as production manager for the 2022 production of Nün Gherāo.
ADT Board Chair Gina Kundan said, “We remain immensely grateful for all that Gary Peterson and Emma Marlar have contributed to the Company’s success. Gary’s arts management expertise chiseled Ananya Dance Theatre into an effective and vibrant organization. His lasting impact has insured a solid foundation that gives our new managing director and operations manager multiple strategies to build upon.
“As production manager for eight seasons, Emma delivered consistent, high-quality productions at home and on tour. We offer each of them love, gratitude and support as they move on to new adventures. It’s rare that opportunities for transition align so seamlessly. We’re thrilled to be able to bring Jennie, Hadiya and Jessie onto the management team.”
Ananya Dance Theatre has earned a reputation for engaging performances, intellectual and artistic rigor, and an uncompromising commitment to social justice. Its BIPOC women and femme dance artists are cultural activists who believe in the transformative power of dance. In dancing stories where the lives and dreams of women from the global majority occupy the center, they challenge the landscape of mainstream culture, build understanding about arts and social justice, and empower artistic voices.
The National Endowment for the Arts has approved a $10,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to Ananya Dance Theatre. The grant will support the creation and production of Michhil, the company’s work of contemporary dance theater that will premiere in September 2023.
Ananya Dance Theatreis among 1,251 grantees across America, totaling $28.8 million, selected to receive this first round of 2023 funding in the Grants for Arts Projects category. The national awards include $1+ million to 44 Minnesota organizations. A complete list of grantees is here.
Michhil is contemplated as a full-length dance theater work that draws on the disruptive energies and experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic to reimagine the pristine, untouchable notion of staged concert dance and to reshape the artist-audience relationship. Structurally, Michhil juxtaposes interruption – not a globally-shared experience – and the insistent, concurrent, embodied resistance movements in BIPOC communities to lift up multiple pandemics of intersectional violence.
Michhil builds on the hallmark of Ananya Chatterjea’s choreographic style – non-uniform ensemble dancing – and is repeatedly interrupted by invited audience members whose improvised processions take over the stage and house. Artists regroup, and the choreography restarts from a new place, proceeding through different group formations. The work concludes with an exploration of liberation as the worlds of stage performance, and audience processionals merge and emerge in different, non-oppositional adjacencies.
Ananya Dance Theatre is excited to announce the first cohort of artists who will participate in ADT and Shawngrām Institutes’ first Next Gen Choreo Lab. Curated by Ananya Chatterjea, Sarah Bellamy, and Anh-Thu Pham. These artists, with the support of national mentors, will develop a choreographic project over the next 7 months.
Alexandra Eady is a contemporary dancer specifically trained in the dance technique of Yorchhā created by Ananya Chatterjea, the Artistic Director of Ananya Dance Theatre. In 2011, she became a company member with Ananya Dance Theatre and continues to train, perform, teach and tour with the company. Eady enjoys movement that is physically challenging and emotionally complex. She is interested in creating and dancing choreographies that require a sustainable intensity, maintain a connection to story and do not leave behind ancestral guidance. She works to bring her communities with her and performs in honor of those that have come before, the ones that are witnessing, and future generations.
Kealoha Ferreira, is a Kanaka Maoli, Filipino, Chinese dance artist from Nuʻuanu, Oʻahu. She began her performing and teaching career with Ananya Dance Theatre in 2013, becoming the Artistic Associate and a Co-Leader of the Shawngrām Institute for Performance & Social Justice in 2018. A practitioner of Yorchhā, and an emerging student of Oli and Hula, Kealoha works at the intersection of these transnational feminist and aloha ʻāina embodied practices to create space, classes, and performance that dig into the tensious and expansive nature of relationality while remaining rooted in cultural and kinesthetic specificity. Sheʻs privileged to have shown work at Bryant Lake Bowl Theater, the Shawngram Institute, Pangea World Theater, Heart of the Beast, Walker Arts Center, and virtually with Theater Mu and Red Eye Theater as a Works in Progress cohort artist. Kealoha is grateful to deepen her learning through opportunities like BIPOC Leadership Circle curated by art Equity and Hālau ʻŌhiʻa, a land and water stewardship program organized by Lonoa Honua. She mahalos the people, lands, and waters (chosen and ancestral) that teach her daily to dance and live in aloha and complex solidarity.
Photo credit: Laichee Yang
Victoria is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Santee affiliated, and was born and raised on her ancestral homelands in Mnisota (Minneapolis, MN). She is the owner of Indigenous Lotus which launched in 2017 with the intention to support indigenous relatives in healing through movement practices. As a mother and dedicated student and practitioner, Victoria is a 500-hour certified Yoga Instructor, Yoga of 12-Step Recovery Leader, Primal Flow certified Instructor, and holds a degree in business. Prior to Indigenous Lotus, Victoria’s background includes over a decade of direct youth work within the community for Native American/ Indigenous non-profit organizations in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Her work has led her to teach and speak around the nation and in Canada. Currently, Victoria is enrolled in a second 300-hour yoga certification program with Susanna Barkataki, enrolled in an accredited Ayurvedic Health Counseling program, and a part of an Abortion Doula cohort through the Postpartum Healing Lodge.
We invite artists who are ready for professional engagement to join our ensemble. Ideal company members demonstrate a commitment to training in a non-mainstream movement aesthetic and the rigor of a justice-informed creative approach, show up with maturity and consistency in their working process, and embody an ensemble-based working methodology.
Our work is process-intensive and ensemble-based and we invite artists to bring the fullness of their voice to the work.
Ananya Dance Theatre is a professional dance company of BIPOC women and femme artists working at the intersection of artistic excellence, contemporary dance theater, social justice, and transnational feminisms. Our physical facility, the Shawngrām Institute for Performance & Social Justice is located at 1197 University Ave West, St Paul, MN. Typically, the company presents at least one new, devised performance annually, and is engaged in touring, offering community-based experiences, workshops, classes, and site-specific public art works. The company prides itself on developing deep roots in our local community along with wide-spreading branches in our transnational relationships.
Ananya Dance Theatre seeks to hire a full-time Operations Manager.
The Operations Manager reports to and works closely with the Managing Director and Artistic Director to manage the operations of the company.
Ananya Dance Theatre is a professional dance company of BIPOC women and femme artists working at the intersection of excellence, contemporary dance theater, social justice, and transnational feminisms. Our physical facility, the Shawngrām Institute for Performance & Social Justice is located at 1197 University Ave West, St Paul, MN, and is equipped with ADA-compliant access ramp and rest rooms. Typically, the company presents at least one new, devised performance annually, and is engaged in touring, offering community-based experiences, workshops, classes, and site-specific public art works. The company prides itself on developing deep roots in our local community along with wide-spreading branches in our transnational relationships.
Who We’re Looking For
We are looking for a Twin-Cities based professional who will work closely with the Managing Director and Artistic Director, and in keeping with the community-embedded professional culture the company has carefully nurtured since its inception. The person who is right for this position is a resourceful, proactive thought leader and problem solver, committed to a mission of BIPOC women and femme-centered social justice choreography, collaborative, energetic, people-oriented, and nurturing of the community connections that enliven our work.
This is a person who also works relatively independently to manage projects and makes decisions in close cooperation with other ADT colleagues, in keeping with the company’s culture.
This position does not have fixed hours per day every week, and the ideal candidate understands that their schedule will need to flexibly prioritize company activities. Much of the work of this position can be accomplished remotely.
● Bottom-line reliability;
● A generalist who tends to details in many areas in pursuit of meaning and accomplishment;
● A positive, can-do attitude reflected in forward-thinking that focuses on executing the details of short- and long-term tactics, strategies, and objectives;
● Understanding of and shared interest in social justice art-making and alternative, BIPOC-led aesthetics and artistic processes;
● Ability to articulate coherent stories orally and in writing;
● Strong written and verbal communication and marketing skills;
● Computer literacy and proficiency with Google Documents, Microsoft Office, Airtable, and online QuickBooks;
● Strategic and tactical insight into the uses of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other online platforms;
● General facility to maintain technical equipment, e.g. alarm system, printer, etc.;
● Experience managing information in spreadsheets and other office software;
● Basic budgeting and accounting skills to maintain the baseline documentation for the organization’s bookkeeper, accountants, and auditor;
● Ability to organize, plan, facilitate, and manage activities to meet deadlines;
● Personal ability to troubleshoot, problem solve, and navigate the nuances that balance the resources and dreams of a growing, mighty dance company.
Facility Maintenance: Manage building needs, such as contemporaneous security issues, monitor security cameras, manage key access for personnel, arrange for internal repairs, maintain supplies, communicate with landlord and neighbors about concerns, needs, activities;
Institute Schedule: Maintain schedule of Institute activities, particularly events that involve external parties, such as showings, rentals, etc.;
Communications / Social Media: Manage incoming administrative email, assist in updating website, and monitor Facebook, Twitter, Instagram accounts; assist the Managing Director with other external communications; develop and maintain constituent snail and email lists for students, audiences, and donors; update and maintain Airtable database;
Bookkeeping / Accounting: Manage internal accounting for deposits and accounts payable, posting receipts and expenditures to QuickBooks software; maintain paper and electronic backup of transactions; primary contact for outside bookkeeper and tax accountant;
Payroll: Manage bi-weekly and monthly employee payroll with outside bookkeeper, and payments to contractors;
Data Entry: Postings to QuickBooks software and maintain Airtable database;
Retrieve mail from post office box;
General Office Administration: As assigned and assumed;
Activities Files: Maintain electronic and paper files for all activity as repositories for correspondence, contracts, photos, and other items throughout the year;
Event Management: Manage online/streaming activities, assisting with ADA compliance, set up, tear down, and technical aspects of these events;
Track and compile participant activity statistics for all activities: classes, workshops, performances, online streams, tour residencies;
Development: Assist Managing Director in communicating and managing fundraising initiatives.
The Operations Manager is budgeted to be a 1.00 FTE employee compensated at $48,000 annually. Ananya Dance Theatre will provide a MacIntosh laptop for virtual and in-person employment service.
Ananya Dance Theatre is a mission-based, nonprofit performing arts organization. Working in this sector can be personally rewarding, with intrinsic benefits and distinct opportunities for growth. We recognize that our compensation does not match that of the private sector nor of more highly resourced arts organizations. We are committed to working to increase compensation and benefits for all of our people. Candidates for employment should consider carefully their decision to work in this field before seeking or accepting a position at Ananya Dance Theatre.
Please send a letter of interest and resume to Irna.Landrum@ananyadancetheatre.org.
Please include “Operations Manager” in the email’s subject line. Please include the following information: your interest in the position and the organization, evidence of the required experience, and contact information. Applicants will be screened on a rolling basis until the position is filled. All applicants will be notified of decisions in a timely fashion.
Prominent members of the Twin Cities arts communities, Sarah Bellamy and Anh-Thu Pham, will join Ananya Chatterjea in curating the artists who will constitute the first two cohorts of this ChoreoLab. Together, they will curate six artists from BIPOC communities into a year-long program over two years (two cohorts), where they will be supported through their process of creating and rehearsing a piece, receiving feedback from three national mentors.
In keeping with the company’s mission, Chawrchā prioritizes social justice-directed dance-making and artistry that emerges from non-western aesthetic bases.
The Bengali word Chawrchā means research and practice.
Anh Thu T. Pham is the Managing Director at Theater Mu where she is the first Asian American managing director. A 1.5-generation refugee from Viet Nam, she has served on the boards of Pangea World Theater, Ananya Dance Theater, and the New Arab American Theater Works. She has worked as a cultural consultant for the Guthrie Theater in their production of Vietgone and the Stages Theatre’s adaptation of A Different Pond. She currently serves on the advisory committee of the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota and the board of Northern Lights MN. Anh Thu is a community activist and organizer at heart, she was a member of Rad Azns (Asians for Black Lives Matter) prior to starting her position at Theater Mu.
Sarah Bellamy is a nationally renowned racial equity facilitator and practitioner of racial healing. Her methods are holistic, profound, and foster powerful intimacy and authenticity for clients. She brings a wealth of scholarship, strategic acuity, and deep compassion to consultative and coaching relationships. Her writing focuses on memoir, personal essays, plays, and short stories. She is a stage director and the president of Penumbra, a center for racial healing that houses one of the nation’s oldest and largest African American theatre companies. Sarah has been awarded the Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award, a Bush Foundation Fellowship, and served on the Board of Directors for Theatre Communications Group. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Jerome Foundation. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband and two small children. More at www.sbellamy.com
Ananya Dance Theatre & the Shawngrām Institute for Performance & Social Justice is launching Chawrchā, a next-generation choreographic lab, with the support of the Jerome Foundation.
Six artists from BIPOC communities will be curated into a year-long program over two years (two cohorts), where they will be supported through their process of creating and rehearsing a piece, receiving feedback from three national mentors. In keeping with the company’s mission, Chawrchā prioritizes social justice-directed dance-making and artistry that emerges from non-western aesthetic bases.
The Bengali word Chawrchā means research and practice.
Ananya Dance Theatre explores betrayal, dispossession and exile, and the desperate global resistance against great odds that fuels hope and survival in a new piece that premieres at The O’Shaughnessy Friday-Saturday, September 30-October 1 at 7:30pm. Using the 1978-79 massacre of 10,000 refugees on the Marichjhapi Island in West Bengal, India, as its point of departure, Nün Gherāo: Surrounded by Salt tags and stimulates different sites of memory through meditations on dancing in salt water, where one’s tears meet the rising and warming oceans of our world.
ASL interpreted on Friday, September 30.
Choreographed by Ananya Chatterjea and performed by the artists of Ananya Dance Theatre, Nün Gherāo (“noon ghey-raow”) becomes activated through shared breath and rhythms, practices of mourning, overlapping time cycles, ritualized movement, dances of liberation and personal connection. The choreographic language of Yorchhā employs movement principles of Odissi, Mayurbhanj Chhau and Vinyasa Yoga to articulate a contemporary feminist consciousness and aesthetic.
Chatterjea said, “The overarching inspiration for the work comes from poet Agha Shahid Ali’s line ‘Your history stands in the way of my memory’ (Farewell, 1997), and it plays with different dimensions of time – history, memory and futurity. I grew up in Kolkata – only 40 miles from Marichjhapi Island – and yet I knew little about the massacre. Current world events sparked my longing to find out more. Yet it wasn’t until a recent visit back to India that I became motivated to look more intensely at the horrific slaughter and connect it to eco-disasters and social justice.”
The world premiere features the work of an exceptional team of collaborators, including sound artist Spirit McIntyre (performing live), stage director Marcus Young, lighting designer Kevin A. Jones, costume designer Annie Cady, scenery designer Chelsea Warren, properties designer Kezia Florence, writer Mimi Mondal and film designer Darren Johnson.
The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University is located at 2004 Randolph Ave. in Saint Paul. Ananya Dance Theatre and The O’Shaughnessy are implementing Pay What You Can for these performances. The suggested ticket price is $30. For more information and tickets, contact The O’Shaughnessy Ticket Office at 651-690-6700 or online at https://oshag.stkate.edu/.
Nün Gherāo: Surrounded by Salt (World premiere)
Choreography: Ananya Chatterjea (Minneapolis)
Sound score: Spirit Paris McIntyre; performing live (New Orleans)
Stage director: Marcus Young (St. Paul)
Lighting design: Kevin A. Jones (Minneapolis)
Costume design: Annie Cady (St. Paul)
Scenic design: Chelsea Warren (Minneapolis)
Properties design: Kezia Florence (Minneapolis)
Writer: Mimi Mondal (New York)
Film design: Darren Johnson (Minneapolis)
ABOUT ANANYA DANCE THEATRE (ADT)
Ananya Dance Theatre is a company of cultural activists and BIPOC women, womxn, and femme artists who believe in the transformative power of dance. In dancing stories where lives and dreams of the global majority occupy the center, ADT shifts the landscape of mainstream culture, builds understanding about arts and social justice, and empowers artistic voices.
Nün Gherāo was commissioned by the Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Nün Gherāo was created in part during a residency at the Pillow Lab at Jacob’s Pillow. Nün Gherāo is supported by the City of Saint Paul Cultural Sales Tax Rehabilitation Program and by the Marbrook Foundation. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. This project is also 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. Ananya Dance Theatre is supported by the Regional Cultural Treasures Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation, Ford Foundation and McKnight Foundation.
ABOUT THE O’SHAUGHNESSY St. Catherine University and The O’Shaughnessy staff carefully curate a selection of artistic offerings that highlight women’s voices and center themes of social justice, reflecting the University’s mission to educate women to lead and influence. Programming includes live dance, music, and theater performances as well as a Speaker Series designed by St. Catherine University faculty to foster learning and dialogue. In addition, many local arts organizations call The O’Shaughnessy home. The venue provides a high quality, 1,800-seat performance space, smaller spaces that can accommodate more intimate performances, technical staff who are experts in their field, and professional, patron-focused ticketing services and front of house support. With a legacy in Saint Paul of over 50 years and more than 30,000 patrons who attend annually, the O’Shaughnessy is one of the largest performing arts venues in the Twin Cities. oshag.stkate.edu
Ananya Dance Theatre rehearsal excerpts celebrate democracy, freedom, and the pursuit of excellence. Music score by Spirit McIntyre. Bols and choreography by Ananya Chatterjea. Performed by Kealoha Ferreira, Alexandra Eady, Parisha Rajbhandari, Ananya Chatterjea, Laichee Yang, Lizzette Marie Chapa, Noelle Awadallah, and Alexis Araminta Reneé.
by Ananya Chatterjea, artistic director
On August 15, 2022, India will mark its 75th year as an independent, democratic nation!
I was delighted when the curators of the Indo-American Arts Council, sponsors of an important cultural festival in New York, invited Ananya Dance Theatre to be part of their celebrations marking this important milestone. In reply to the curators’ invitation, I detailed the thematic focus of the work I proposed to perform on August 6. The work takes its point of departure from the 1979 Morichjhnapi massacre of large numbers of Dalit communities in West Bengal, and explores stories of loss and displacement. The piece is a tribute to freedom seekers everywhere, something that seemed in line with a nation celebrating 75 years of freedom from British colonial rule. I shared detailed program notes that were posted to the festival’s website early in July.
In my mind, our dance, though entirely different from other pieces on the program in its explicit political orientation, was offering the best of what I have learned from my Indian, specifically Bengali, upbringing – aesthetic clarity and power, spiritual fervor, an unquenchable thirst for freedom – as embodied in the dancework.
In my artistic life, I have chiseled my dance-making as social justice choreography, nurtured by my growing years in Kolkata, India, and matured through my work with exceptional professionals, primarily Black and brown artists, who comprise the company, Ananya Dance Theatre. My artistic work is not literal story-telling; it is metaphoric contemporary dance. I believe that the curators understood all of this.
A contract was agreed to, flights from Minnesota to New York were booked, and hotel rooms reserved. Intense rehearsals in Saint Paul ensued. This Friday, we would have been en route to New York, celebrating democracy, artistic freedom, and artistic excellence.
Then, a month ago, the IAAC’s board of directors canceled our participation, calling it an “ABSOLUTE NO” for their “birthday party” because it did not fit the mood of the festival. In conversation, I shared that, while the dance was not an overt, “joyous celebration” of the nation as they encouraged, it certainly moved through loss and pain toward a reclamation of freedom.
I invited the directors to watch a rehearsal over Zoom, specifically to witness how my choreography of a resistance movement ends in an energetic circle dance that celebrates liberation everywhere. They demurred, and instead proceeded to censor my work by removing us from their website and erasing my artistic voice from their celebration.
Multivocality and dissent are traditional in a democracy, and the legacy of India, a nation that had once been hailed as the largest democracy in the world is, in fact, protest. However, it is pertinent to note that, in the 2022 ratings on the Human Freedom Index, India has slipped to 119th place. (https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/freedom-index-by-country)
As I look out at the broad field of dance and, in particular, Indian dance, I notice how tropes such as “spiritual,” “sacred,” “mythological,” and “holy,” are being deployed to assimilate “Indian dance” to a particular and narrow notion of Hinduism, which belies the rich syncretism and multiple voices that are inherent in our cultural fabric. Censorship is a stealthy, slippery slope that slides across borders, aggressively snuffing out spaces for dissent globally.
Ananya Dance Theatre and its work that draws from traditional Indian forms of Odissi dance, the martial art Chhau, and Vinyasa Yoga, will not be performing with other artists of the Indian diaspora in New York this weekend.
Instead, I share the accompanying brief excerpts from our rehearsals as my contribution to this celebration of democracy, freedom, and the pursuit of excellence. My choreography chooses to remember and uplift histories we are asked to forget, such that democracy and independence can be protected in years to come.
Join us Monday, June 20, at 6pm CDT, for a free, 90-minute event live-streamed from the Shawngrām Institute for Performance & Social Justice. Hear from the anthology’s contributors, editors, and others. https://youtu.be/OXMMzkNLREM
An anthology, Dancing Transnational Feminisms: Ananya Dance Theatre and the Art of Social Justice, is available to the public following its January publication by the University of Washington Press. The volume, which elevates the voices of 22 contributors, was edited by present and past members of Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT): Ananya Chatterjea, Hui Niu Wilcox, and Alessandra Lebea Williams.
Through empowered movement that centers the lives, stories, and dreams of marginalized women, ADT has revealed how the practice of and commitment to artistic excellence can catalyze social justice. With each performance, this professional dance company of Black, Brown, and Indigenous gender non-conforming women and femmes of color challenges heteronormative patriarchies, white supremacist paradigms, and predatory global capitalism. Its creative artistic processes and vital interventions have transformed the spaces of contemporary concert dance into sites of empowerment, resistance, and knowledge production.
Drawing from more than 15 years of collaborative dance-making and sustained dialogues based on deep alliances across communities of color, Dancing Transnational Feminisms offers a multigenre exploration of how dance can be intersectionally reimagined as practice, methodology, and metaphor for feminist solidarity.
Blending essays with stories, interviews, and poems, this collection explores timely questions surrounding race and performance, gender and sexuality, art and politics, global and local inequities, and the responsibilities of artists toward their communities.
Ananya Chatterjea is professor of dance at the University of Minnesota. Hui Niu Wilcox is professor of sociology, critical studies of race and ethnicity, and women’s studies at St. Catherine University. Alessandra Lebea Williams is assistant professor of dance at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
“Honest, true, and poignant, ADT demonstrates throughout the pages of this book that the affect of being with, in relationship alongside, and in creative alliance for a purposeful act is a labor of love and a beautiful thing to behold.”
– from the foreword by D. Soyini Madison
“Dancing Transnational Feminisms is a fitting tribute to the extraordinary political and artistic labor of Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT). Theorizing deeply embodied epistemologies anchored in the histories, experiences, and agency of marginalized communities of Black, brown, and indigenous women and femmes, contributors offer an entirely new and original grammar of transnational feminist solidarity. The work of ADT engaged here offers a beautiful, evocative tapestry of dreaming, dancing, theorizing, and organizing such that body and movement become the site for weaving new collective memories and stories of hope, survival, and resistance. An extraordinary collection that belongs on the shelves of artists, scholars and organizers alike.”
-Chandra Talpade Mohanty, author of Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity
A celebration of Dancing Transnational Feminisms, hosted by Rutgers University-New Brunswick’s Department of Dance, with keynote addresses provided by Brenda Dixon-Gottschild and Thomas F. DeFrantz, and panel discussion lead by Alessandra Williams, Ananya Chatterjea, and Hui Niu Wilcox.
Published January 2022 by University of Washington Press and drawing from more than 15 years of collaborative dance-making and sustained dialogues based on deep alliances across communities of color, Dancing Transnational Feminismsoffers a multigenre exploration of how dance can be intersectionally reimagined as practice, methodology, and metaphor for feminist solidarity. Blending essays with stories, interviews, and poems, this collection explores timely questions surrounding race and performance, gender and sexuality, art and politics, global and local inequities, and the responsibilities of artists toward their communities.
Keynote Speaker: Brenda Dixon-Gottschild, Professor Emerita of dance studies, Temple University
Keynote Speaker: Thomas F. DeFrantz, Research Professor in the Department of African and African American Studies, Duke University
Co-Author: Ananya Chatterjea, Professor of Dance at the University of Minnesota, Artistic Director of Ananya Dance Theatre
Co-Author: Hui Niu Wilcox, Professor of Sociology, Women’s Studies, and Critical Studies of Race/Ethnicity at St. Catherine University
Co-Author: Alessandra Williams, Assistant Professor of Dance, Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts
Ananya Chatterjea is artistic director of Ananya Dance Theatre, Professor of Dance at the University of Minnesota, and author of her second book, Heat and Alterity in Contemporary Dance.
Hui Niu Wilcox, Ph.D. is Professor of Sociology, Women’s Studies, and Critical Studies of Race/Ethnicity at St. Catherine University, and was a dance artist with Ananya Dance Theatre from 2004 to 2020. Her research has been focused on sociology of dance especially in connection to immigrant identities, race/ethnicity, multiculturalism, and transnational feminisms.
Alessandra Williams is an assistant professor of dance at Rutgers University-New Brunswick who researches dance, transnational feminism and queer performance, and African American and Asian American culture. Her fellowships include the Inclusive Excellence Fellowship (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 2018–19), Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship (University of California, Los Angeles 2010–14), and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (Macalester College 2005–07). She has performed with the Ananya Dance Theatre company. Her current book project explores queer sexuality, gender, and race through dances and films by David Roussève/REALITY dance company.
Members of Ananya Dance Theatre and two of their artistic collaborators take up a nine-day residency this week at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Massachusetts. ADT was selected as one of eight artist residencies this winter and spring at the Pillow Lab, a year-round incubator of new work.
Spirit McIntyre | Photo by Isabel Fajardo
The company will use its time in Becket to begin development of Nūn Gherāo, a full-length work of dance theater responding to the 1978-79 massacre of 10,000 refugees from Bangladesh on Marichjhapi Island in West Bengal, India, and adjacent stories of genocide and eco-displaced communities. It will premiere in St. Paul, Minnesota in September.
Two collaborators joining the ADT dancers are composer, vocalist, and cellist Spirit McIntyre and writer and author Mimi Mondal.
McIntyre (they/them), from New Orleans, created the sound score for ADT’s 2021 production “Dastak: I Wish You Me” and is performing the work on the company’s U.S. tours during 2022. They use their voice and cello to blend Blues, Soul, Folk, Classical, Reggae, and Middle Eastern sounds into unique musical landscapes. McIntyre created SpiritWerks, a multi-disciplinary arts practice, and is the Compassionate Community Architect for Trans*Visible, a network that challenges Binarism and Cis-Sexism in social justice movements.
Mimi Mondal | Photo courtesy of Mimi Mondal
Mondal was born in Kolkata, India, and currently lives in New York City. She is the author of “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light,” which was a finalist for the Nebula Award in 2020. She has also co-edited the Locus Award-winning and Hugo Award-nominated nonfiction anthology “Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler,” and written a column titled “Extraordinary Alien” on Hindustan Times. Her shorter stories may be found in Clarkesworld Magazine, Strange Horizons, Nightmare Magazine, Fireside Magazine, and The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction.
An informal showing of Nūn Gherāo will be live-streamed from the Pillow’s Perles Family Studio, Saturday, March 26, 2pm ET / 1pm CT: https://site-21495820.bcvp0rtal.com/ Password: pillowlab326
Lead support for the Pillow Lab is provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Jacob’s Pillow is a National Historic Landmark, recipient of the National Medal of Arts, and home of America’s longest-running international dance festival, currently in the midst of its transition to becoming a year-round center for dance through a five-year strategic plan titled Vision 22. For more information, visit www.jacobspillow.org.
Ananya Dance Theatre will present Dr. Elgie Gaynell Sherrod in an online talk, Sunday, January 30, 4:30pm-6pm. Dr. Sherrod will share insights from her rich experiences in concert dance, with specific reference to Black legacies in American dance.
Join the conversation on two platforms: (1) Zoom • Meeting ID: 491 001 6901 • https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4910016901 or (2) Instagram • Live-stream on Ananya Dance Theatre’s page: @ananyadancetheatre
Dr. Sherrod began her formal dance training in high school with Dr. Kariamu Welsh and (the late) Pearl Reynolds, studying African-derived dance forms Umfundalai and the Katherine Dunham technique.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in Psychology, she joined the dance faculty at the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, a public arts academy in Buffalo, New York.
She subsequently pursued a career in dance performance and joined the Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco!), where she refined her craft under the direction of Joan Meyers Brown and other acclaimed teachers and choreographers.
After 15 years of performing, touring, and teaching with PHILADANCO! and Urban Bush Women, she earned a master’s degree in dance education and a Doctorate in the pedagogy of performance from Temple University in Philadelphia.
In 2003 she completed coursework at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and earned a New York State Department of Education Certification in School Administration and Supervision (SAS).
Dr. Sherrod is a Fulbright-Hayes scholar in dance research. Her artistic and theoretical works are steeped in the dance and music of the African American vernacular and the African Diaspora – mentored by acclaimed scholars Drs. Brenda Dixon-Gottschild, Kariamu Welsh, and (the late) Katie G. Cannon.
From 2001-2003, she was the Director of Dance Education for New York City public schools, where she designed and implemented professional training initiatives for dance educators, teaching artists, and classroom teachers. Most notably she co-founded and directed the New York City Department of Education Dance Institute, based on the Katherine Dunham model, and for which she was awarded a DANA Foundation Grant.
Dr. Sherrod began her academic teaching career at New Jersey City University and New York University (NYU). From 2004-2014, she taught at Florida A&M University (FAMU), earning tenure (Associate Professor) and becoming the Interim Chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER).
In 2014, Dr. Sherrod joined the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and served as Chair of the Department of Dance and Choreography for three years. Currently, she is an associate professor in Dance at VCU, after serving as the Interim Executive Director of PHILDANCO! from 2019-2020.
She is the author of Katherine Dunham and The Dance Griots: Reading the Invisible Script(Mellen Press – August 2021).Dr. Sherrod proudly serves on the boards of CultureWorks (Richmond, Virginia), the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), and Ananya Dance Theatre (St. Paul, Minnesota)