January 10, 2013

An introduction to Mohona: Estuaries of Desire

Inspirational image from the internet of women in India waiting in line for water.

Inspirational image from the internet of women in India waiting in line for water.

The concept for Mohona: Estuaries of Desire completes our four-year project begun with  Kshoy!/Decay! in 2009. We began working on this project to explore violence experienced by women in global communities of color. We quickly realized that these complex issues needed to be investigated over a longer period of time that would allow us to generate and sustain artistic strategies for anti-violence work.

We have come to understand systemic violence as an intersection of epic, historic violence such as colonialism and slavery; everyday violence resulting from hierarchies of race, class, gender, and sexuality; and violence enacted within and across communities in the name of tradition.

Our quartet of dances since 2009 explores through four paradigms: mud/land(2010 Kshoy!/Decay!),  gold (2011, Tushaanal: Fires of Dry Grass), oil (2012, Moreechika: Season of Mirage), and water (2013, Mohona: Estuaries of Desire). Their stories show how these naturally occurring elements have been harnessed as capital, and have resulted in violence on women.

Inspirational image found on the internet.

Inspirational image found on the internet.

Mohona: Estuaries of Desire is inspired by stories of women and water and the violence that has resulted from the widespread corporatization of this community resource. Working from stories of women’s struggles, pain, determination, and courage around access to water. Mohona becomes a way to remember, imagine, and celebrate their legacies.

Water is material, quenching thirst and a metaphor, signifying flow, femininity, and resistance. Our creative and expressive performing space is imagined as an estuary located at the confluence of multiple marine flows, rich in possibilities, where dancers layer breath, movement, and voice.

As we begin 2013 and deepen the work for Mohona, we invite you to share your stories of water with us on our blog as we take this journey together.

 

 

October 10, 2012

Ananya Dance Theatre performances at Temple University, Philadelphia

Conwell Dance TheaterThe Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University presented Ananya Dance Theatre’s production of “Moreechika: Season of Mirage” for two performances at the Conwell Dance Theater in Philadelphia, October 5-6, 2012.

Artistic Director Ananya Chatterjea and the dancers also conducted master classes, a graduate seminar, and community talks during four days of activities at Temple University and the Performance Garage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 5, 2012

Ananya Dance Theatre at New Waves! in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

"Moreechika" performed in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, July 2012

Ananya Dance Theatre’s “Moreechika” performed in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, July 2012 • Photo by Maria Nunes

 

The New Waves! Commissioning Project of the Dance & Performance Institute presented Ananya Dance Theatre’s production of “Moreechika: Season of Mirage” for two performances at the National Academy for Performing Arts, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, July 22-August 1, 2012.

Ananya Chatterjea in "Moreechika" in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, July 2012

Ananya Chatterjea, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, July 2012 • Photo by Maria Nunes

Founded in 2010, the Dance & Performance Institute is an international community of dance and performance artists, a forum for exchange, and series of programs on contemporary dance and performance based in Trinidad & Tobago. The Institute spearheads the Artist in Residence program, the Carnival Performance Institute, and New Waves! Institute.

The Institute is directed and curated by Makeda Thomas. As a dancer, Thomas performed internationally in the companies of Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, URBAN BUSH WOMEN, and Rennie Harris/ Puremovement. She began her study in Brooklyn, New York with Michael Goring and Eleo Pomare, continuing on scholarship at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, The Paul Taylor School and Hofstra University where she earned a B.A. in Dance and English. She holds an MFA in Dance from Hollins University. Thomas continues to create and perform internationally, while living in New York City & Port of Spain.

 

Ananya Dance Theatre's "Moreechika" in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, July 2012 • Photo by Maria Nunes

Ananya Dance Theatre’s “Moreechika” in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, July 2012 • Photo by Maria Nunes

July 3, 2012

dance dance dance

dance your anger/and your joys/dance the guns to silence/dance dance dance.
–Ken Saro-Wiwa

Ananya Dance Theatre stands apart from other dance companies in its unparalleled dedication to artistic excellence combined with rigorous academic research on the presented works. In other words, you won’t find a more rehearsed or better informed group of dancers anywhere else. With each new project, ADT dancers are absolutely immersed in and consumed by their work. Beyond merely dancing with a current events lens, our performers engage fully in a process of rigorous technique training with equal emphasis on in-depth research and profound understanding of complex socio-political realities. Audiences ultimately witness the embodiment of an emotional, spiritual, physical and intellectual transformation.

For Moreechika, the dancers are finding motivation and inspiration from an array of oil/petroleum related subjects. They are following the disastrous deep horizon oil spill and its devastating consequences to environment and community in the gulf coast region. They monitor the keystone pipeline initiative that intends to desecrate Native American land. They have explored the methods of protest used by the indigenous Kichwa women in Ecuador, and charted their three decade long battle with Chevron oil. They investigated the trial and hanging of Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and his protest against Shell Oil for the injustices done to the Ogoni people and the destruction of their land and ecosystem.   They studied the concept of oil as ruiria—or blood of the earth—through the practices and beliefs of the U’wa community in Colombia.

All of this complex research and artistry culminates in an epic evening length work that engages and inspires. The members of this company recognize that dance audiences are sophisticated and they hunger for work that can be challenging and complex, so we strive to avoid simplistic and patronizing entertainment. Instead, our audiences join us on a journey of discovery, awareness, and empowerment.

Follow these links for more information on the subjects we’ve been researching:

Deep Horizon Oil Spill: huffingtonpost.comThe Guardian, BBC

Keystone Pipeline: ReutersRaw Story

Kichwa Women: globalvoicesonline.org

Ken Saro-Wiwa: wiwavshell.orgThe Guardian

Colombian U’wa Community: amazonwatch.orgunhcr.org

June 26, 2012

The Deep Reach of Oil Dependence

By Gina Kundan

An image search on the subject of oil offers a compelling story: From happy, healthy babies to sticky, dripping waterfowl, it is abundantly clear that our dependence on oil reaches infinitely further than most of us recognize. Oil cleanses and purifies, it also contaminates and corrupts. Oil is nutritious and healing as much as it pollutes and destroys. Oil is simultaneously ghastly and beautiful. Oil in all of its many forms is essential to our lives and our livelihoods. Oil is a coveted commodity that fuels the economic elite, destabilizes governments, and props up dangerous regimes. We cannot (and will not) survive without oil in all of its many forms, but can we resist greed and corruption? Can we illuminate the ways in which communities continue to resist the environmental devastation and genocide that is so inextricably linked to the collection and distribution of oil?

Our newest work: Moreechika, season of mirage, is in many ways an attempt to wrestle with the environmental, societal, and political implications of our oil dependence. Through artistic metaphor, we use our Contemporary Dance medium to reach beyond the logical/cognitive awareness of facts and explore the ways in which unregulated oil drilling has resulted in wide-spread devastation and has sparked resistance in global communities. We find inspiration in stories of Nigerian activists who’s resistance to “Big Oil” attracted global attention; stories of the indigenous women of Ecuador, who have refused to permit drilling on their land for over 20 years; stories of native Colombian women who have repeatedly forced oil companies out of their lands; and of recent industrial oil spills that have destroyed many ecological systems, communities, and livelihoods.

 

June 12, 2012

Reflecting on Ghost

Reflecting on Ghost, trying to understand this section.  I try to conceive “Her”, try to formulate words to describe the wave of emotion attached to the beauty of the movements.  I begin by questioning – who is “her“?  This is the mind struggling to make sense out of the Ghosts of the poem.  – Maybe “Her” is the ghost that once was a woman who now resides in every women, watched all the turmoil that oil has caused and still watches it through the eyes of the women that still live in the turmoil, she is a shadow of both existing life  and dead life.  The lost ones – those that died at the eve of the kiss, live in “Her” memory and the corpses are visible to “Her” as living bodies. Or maybe “Her” is a third world country that’s in deep oil-exploitation – a victim of poverty porn that media portrays.  And all this oil and resources not enough to liberate “Her” and as a result she sleeps covered in a veil of beauty waiting for the right hands to free her.  There is also a connection with Oil Drop section – the idea of natural oil living in earth and “Her” being the earth.  Our movements are attached to “Her” or earth, it never leaves but once it does then it creates all the problems – the pool of oil that exists in her.

 

Her. . .

Calmed by the heaviness of her breath
She returns to the reverie
To ease the pain
To abandon eyes
Exhales empty feelings
Naked emotions
Scans the rest of the bodies
. . .Still living
Back to hallucination
Bones visible
Uncomfortable
Poking
Eyes not focusing
Dreaming?
Fertile land
Plenty to eat
To waste
To give
Her kids
Home
Warmth
Laughter
How many survived?
Dying?
Opens to see
To count Corpses
10, 12, 20
Vomits out her agony
Longing to flee
Begging to disappear
Snapshots
Flash lights
Brings her back to sanity
To the foolish reality
Where the majority is minority
Where misery feeds the exploited
Poverty porn is televised
Minds prostituted

Images of her  publicized
Entertaining the deceived

In the corner of her eyes
She Searches reasons
Fights the urge
Keeps holding on
To fractured memories
War in the mind
Deception of actuality
Desperation flames the body
Covered in fantasy
Hungry and thirsty
Neglected humanity
Guided by sympathy
Filthy Idiots
Drop moments of shame
In hopes to be crucified
In dust they arrive
Leave rooting bloodshed
Souls bought and sold
Homeland destroyed
Tribal wars honored
Hiding intention
Farther away from solution
Out of proportion
Legal pollution
Mental Distraction
Public extortion
Apathetic action
Who to question?
Who to question?

Emptiness engulfs her
No matter how many she bore
No matter the resources she owns
No matter her value
She is doomed to wait
For rain,
For hope
For miracle
For her robbers
Who take more
And return less
So she sleeps covered in a veil of beauty waiting for the right hands to free her

 

Negest 

May 17, 2012

Design for Oil

OIL.  It’s the issue on everyone’s mind right now, including myself.  As the OIL industry’s façade starts to fall and we, the consumers, have realized just what is happening behind the curtain – the guilt, the rage and the helplessness sets in.  And still, I’m driving my car.

The truth is that if you live in America, you are part of the cycle.  There is no way to take yourself out of the equation – not now.

As usual, Ananya’s choreography has served up even more tasty ideas for my design brain to munch on.  Our design process started out as it usually does; with inspiring talks, initial ideas and discussion.   Costuming is moving away from that glorious natural silk we’ve been using the past two years to embrace our guilty modernity with man-made materials.  Layered fabrics will wrap the women in a patchwork of texture and rectilinear shapes.

In the scenic world, we’re utilizing shadow puppetry for the first time to help us illustrate the past and present ghosts who are here to warn us – or punish us if need be.   A few key elements to give us a sense of OIL’s unique and sludgy texture will be featured in the background.

After being away from the production process last year (I was researching in China – not goofing off!) I’m ridiculously happy to be in the thick of it with the team – I promise you – production meetings are NOT supposed to be this much fun.

Enjoy!

Annie Rollins; Costume and Set designer for Moreechika: Season of Mirage

 

Costume Design by Annie Rollins

 

Costume Design 2 by Annie Rollins

Costume Design 3 by Annie Rollins

 

Shadow Puppet Design 1 by Annie Rollins

Shadow Puppet Design 2 by Annie Rollins

 

May 15, 2012

Coal Colored Creature

By Mette Towley

Burning Coal Colored Creature

A seething
Foamy bubbling
The bottom of my gut
Heavy with blood turned to tar
Veins sagging into gravity
Walking, eyes blindfolded
Knowingly into the pitted earth
Falling, gliding
Drowning
Burning in a maze of dreams
Progressive labyrinths
Connected, falsely divided, congealed
Scratching
Swallowing a crystallized lump of coal
Eyes shriveling
Blacken and fall
Out of my skull
Onto the earth
Absorbed into the dirt
Replenishing the earth
Filmy iridescent saliva
Seething cracks of blackened enamel
Throwing up chunks
Porous sinus
A familiar perfume
A smell like reefs on fire
Beaches on fire
Water on fire
Wings on fire
Hair on fire
Gums on fire
Esophagi on fire
Underbelly of the earth on fire
A scorching
Scorching earth
Underneath the earth
On the earth
Made by
Regurgitating through
Holes plunged deep
Deep in blackened sockets
Within the dividing cells
Through the voice

 

Opportunity burning at the rig
Pipes carrying dreams decomposed
Making coal colored creatures
Making dream eating beasts
Snuggling fumes into lungs
A daughter’s body in every tank
Suction
Tubed
The body made liquid
Administered and prescribed
Called balmy and sanctioned for all

As a senior, majoring in Dance and Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature, Mette has found an empowering place in ADT that reflects her own pursuits.  She humbly thanks her parents for their examples of strong work ethics, from which she draws strength during footwork and emotionally demanding rehearsals.

March 22, 2012

The Gone Bird Song

The Gone Bird Song

The Gone Bird Song

Years of dreaming die in one moment

Yearning flight

Calls with no sound

I collect for you and this is how you greet me.

The weight of it all

Collapses

Washed up with no water

Slick with history

Sounds of hope whisper nothing

I stand here

Still

Stuck

And beneath me

You, my sky

Feel the breeze

Pain

On your back burden

These eyes

~Chitra Vairavan

February 9, 2012

Celebrating Community

The location of Ananya Dance Theatre within the hearts of our community is a source of strength and celebration for us. A steady source of support and guidance for us–that grand lady of purple, a dancer at heart, a facilitator of the life-choreographies of many people, an ardent lover and enthusiast for the arts—is Jean Ann Durades. Jean Ann’s birthday is September 10, and since that date almost inevitably coincides with Ananya Dance Theatre’s season, we have always had the opportunity to celebrate partially with her.
This year, however, we were able to honor this patron the arts in the Twin Cities in a much more grand way. On Friday September 9, 2011 Ananya Dance Theatre performers and audience members had the great privilege of organizing and hosting a surprise birthday celebration for Jean Ann Durades, whose steady presence at numerous arts events throughout the Twin Cities is unwavering.

We delighted in the opportunity to honor this enduring company advocate and benefactor, by dedicating our performance in celebration of her 80th Birthday.  For as long as we have known her, her tremendous enthusiasm for the arts and for artists, and her unparalleled encouragement combined with her thoughts, her energy, and her devotion, continues to help sustain and inspire us. We were very excited to have this chance to demonstrate our gratitude.

For us, opportunities such as this one are precious. Dance is a phenomenon of the present: its life is fleeting. Yet, the power and poetry of dance lives on in the hearts and memories of those who support our work and become advocates for it. The joy in our hearts as we danced for one of our beloved community members, and the look of total surprise on Jean Ann’s face when we called her up to stage will be cherished by so many of us for a long time to come.
We thank Jean Ann for her guidance and friendship and we look forward to many more chances to celebrate her! We also want to thank the many friends who came forward to organize this event and join us! We especially thank Yvonne Cheek for spearheading this effort, and other friends who worked hard to get a proclamation from the Mayor honoring the brilliant Ms. Durades, and for making this event a huge success.

[vimeogallery]

[/vimeogallery

January 24, 2012

Texaco Recipe

I was inside, cooking a meal with my daughter and we heard the younger children’s shouts as they played in the waters after their baths splashing in it, swimming in it, drinking it. We all thought it was water until that day.

As I cooked in silence the children’s voices mixed with the hiss of my stove “Look! There is a rainbow in the water!” hisssssss. Such words sound beautiful at first. Like words in a lullaby. I thought, it is possible a rainbow has appeared in the sky and is so strong that they can see the rainbow’s reflection in the Aguarico.

continued →

January 10, 2012

"Find Me"

By Chitra Vairavan

Where do I go when I dance?

There’s nowhere to go but rather pass through your moments into my tomorrow. The news will only reach you late. And timing is everything in your today.

Digging for something that will never be found but still exists in my safe space. That is where my body breathes in tomorrow. Come find me there.

Intentional eyes see beats vibrating from feet, no stomping. Foot-working the love it has for earth, stepping in its own sweat. Not yours. Understand what is left to be understood.

My hands will only reach beyond your sight. Needing more than wants will offer. What’s to become of me in your moments? Whispers in the wind.

Days pass yet when my tomorrow comes it will last beyond dreams. Walk with me for a  while. Tomorrow catches what today lets slip through its fingers.

Movement is my lifetime, not moment, in tomorrow. What you see is how I seem to be. Turn away and look again.

Where do you go when I dance?

 

 

Chitra Vairavan trained in Bharata Natyam with Hema Rajagopalan. In 2004 she began her journey in contemporary Indian movement through Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT). Chitra has since become a principal dancer in the company and received the 2008 Sage Cowles People’s Choice Award and been named Artist to Watch by Minnesota Monthly in 2011.

November 29, 2011

Thoughts on Tushaanal Fires of Dry Grass

By Kulvinder Arora

What does it mean for women of color to collectively perform their relationship to gold? Ananya Dance Theatre explores this question in their latest dance performance piece, Tushaanal Fires of Dry Grass. In the opening scene of Tushaanal Fires of Dry Grass, dancers engage the glitter of gold. Blanketed by a sheer golden coverlet, a dancer writhes underneath exposing the shimmer and sheen of shiny objects. By beginning their work with the allure of gold, Ananya Dance Theatre exposes what literally lies beneath the mining, production and consumption of gold. Second in a series on the systemic violence that affects women, gold is seen as an alluring resource that belies virulent exploitation. As the dancer writhes underneath the shimmering blanket of gold at the left of the stage, the other dancers perform to the right their conflicted relationship to the shimmering play. The dancers seem enticed and yet controlled in their movements. One is left to wonder what will come next and one has a sense that “all that glitters is not gold.”

With great skill in movement interspersed with spoken word and haunting music of women’s wails, Ananya Dance Theatre exposes how gold affects women. Some of the themes they explore are the lure of gold for power and status embodied in a story they tell about the Empress Dowager Cixi, gold as a source of oppression for women who work in the mines, gold as a lure of survival for sex workers who live around the mines, and gold as a form of control of women in dowry exchanges. What is impressive about Tushannal is not only the range of stories that Ananya Dance Theatre exposes in women’s relationship to gold, but also how these stories are artistically rendered. Starting form the Indian Odissi dance form as inspiration, the dancers combine several other traditions of dance, yoga and martial arts to create a syncretic form that speaks not only contemporaneity in dance but also solidarity in struggles. Unlike modern dance, which speaks of individual self-expression, Ananya Dance Theatre speaks of how women of color bodies inspire relationships based in unity.

I return to the question with which I began. What does it mean for women of color to collectively perform their relationship to gold? Ananya Dance Theatre builds not only an aesthetic vocabulary to express solidarities between women of color but a real dialogue about what brings women together and what separates them. Gold, as a natural resource much sought after, illustrates perfectly the idea that capitalist patriarchies generate competition between women over resources. What then does resistance to capitalist patriarchy mean in relation to gold? Women of color share in histories of colonial exploitation of the western world of non-western labor exploitation. Resistance, in this instance, means different things for different women. Sex workers around the mines have a different relation to the allure of gold then women who suffer from dowry exploitation, and yet if we come to the realization that these women’s stories are linked through the structures of capitalist patriarchy, we realize also that resistance may look different in these circumstances conditioned as they are by class and sexuality. Nevertheless, women in these circumstances may come to see how their resistance is linked rather than prioritizing their differences. This is the message that Ananya Dance Theatre communicates so well with its expressive movements but also how the group comes together to create such a piece of work.

Ananya Dance Theatre creates solidarities across women of color’s struggles by creating a strong woman-centered space. In this day and age where discussions of post-race and post-feminism pervade our culture, the importance of such a space is not to be overlooked. More than a movement vocabulary, Tushaanal creates a vocabulary for collectivities of resistance. Each dancer contributed to the piece through research and dialogue and the strong connections forged through that dialogue are reflected in the beautiful dance movements.

Ananya Chatterjea’s vision to create a woman of color dance group of women from different communities speaks to what is missing from racial and gendered discourses which privilege representation over inter-relationality. By having their voices heard loudly and clearly Ananya Dance Theatre is a space where each women of color performer can express her loving support, conflicted realities, and sympathies for other women.  In this way, Ananya Dance Theatre is more than a performance group; it revises what performance and communication mean to people of color communities.

 

Kulvinder Arora is a cultural critic and Professor who teaches courses on transnational film, feminist theory and gender studies. She is currently working on a book project on positive representations of women of color in feature films that is provisionally tiled Plotting Resistance: Acts of Social Justice in Women of Color Films. In shifting the conversation to positive representations, she asks the question “How does viewing women of color resisting oppression rather than being victims of it alter social stereotypes?” By looking at women of color’s struggles across racial and ethnic communities, she argues that there is something productive in seeing similarities between women of color to build solidarities between them and yet important differences between nationalism, patriarchy and colonialism need to be recognized to see how women resist oppression differently.

September 27, 2011

The Story That Wrinkles Tell

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

My gray hair makes men listen.
And when people stare, I wonder
if they are reading the stories of my wrinkles.
While every step tells us heaven is at the feet
of the mother
the distance between the feet and the lips
becomes the longest to travel.
My feet traveled here
to a empty hut hemmed in by parched acacia
with skinny white goats and red sand.
In this hut, I once told my daughter
things would be easier for her if she didn’t step out of line.
I sat in this hut, hiding from the rumor that was real
when my husband married another wife.
She is the age of our daughter.
Our daughter’s daughter looks over the fence
and sees little boys playing.  She wants to be a child
and play also.
That is the story of my wrinkles.

 

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

September 22, 2011

Marriage: It Isn’t Really A Choice

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

I go to bed with ideas lately
after hearing women speak through the radio.
The women on the radio are free.
I wonder if they know about me, a girl
who lost her smile at fifteen
when I was married to a man older than my father.
I was a child decorated with henna and borrowed gold.
I don’t remember smiling.

 

Time moves slowly
as I sit under the sun.
When I sell mangos in the market, I think of going away.
Now I have gold of my own, small pieces I bargain for
from the other market women
and bury under our hut.
I listen to the radio to learn how to speak
like a city woman.
I save newspaper pictures of dresses I want to buy
when I go there.
I will keep my head covered.

 

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

September 20, 2011

Fire From Dry Grass

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

 

Should I blame the mothers,
or the villagers who did not sing?
Who did not light a bonfire from dry grass
or roast meat in my name?
They only sing songs when boys are born
and like a straight arrow to an enemy’s chest
boys bring freedom.
To the people of my village a boy completes a half empty home
but a girl is pain, born from a man’s crooked rib.
So I was welcomed with silence.

 

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

September 15, 2011

Women Who Fly

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

September 8, 2011

Ananya Dance Theatre: Light-hearted Whimsy Isn't Spoken Here

By Submission by Gina Kundan

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, development of Tushaanal has relied on each dancer to not only hone and articulate their artistic craft, but also to research all the many attributes of, and associations with, gold.  Each dancer contributed research and concepts for the work. Some examples include Chitra Vairavan and Brittany Radke who focused on cultural norms and family traditions of beauty and wealth; Kenna Cottman who uncovered the often dire working conditions of artisanal gold mining camps; Renee Copeland who examined religious practices in Thailand; Hui Wilcox who explored stories of the Empress Dowager Cixi.  All of these studies have been woven into brilliant choreographic elements and inspired artistic choices. Dancers transform! Not just portraying characters, but genuinely embodying images of Goddess, Slave, Empress, Televangelist, Creature, Fire, and amidst all of that, some of us have lives as Women!

Come to this performance to witness an artistic expression of gold as adornment, gold as beauty, gold for wealth, gold for environmental degradation, gold for power, gold for status, gold for divinity, gold for oppression, gold desired, gold coveted, gold taken, gold lost.

Unique to dance theater in general and Ananya Dance Theatre in particular, our work is never about movement alone, it always has multiple layers of meaning, intention, emotionality, and physicality. Truly “like no other,” artistic rigor, dedication, focus, precision, and theatricality are essential requirements of this dance form. At every moment dancers must be acutely in tuned with their bodies. The precise placement of each finger and elbow, every glance, every raise of the eyebrow has meaning and purpose—carries a specific message.

Some have warned us that we have gone too far, that our work is too intense—nearly unbearable to witness—others say we haven’t gone far enough. One thing is certain: Tushaanal Fires of Dry Grass is not for the faint hearted.  Our sequins draw blood.  Light hearted whimsy isn’t spoken here.

September 6, 2011

Ananya's Movement Vocabulary

By Camille LeFevre

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

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

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

August 30, 2011

Conflict Minerals

By Negest L Woldeamanuale

How many times?

How many times before?

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

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

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

How many times before a mother loses her daughter?

How many times before her dignity is torn?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How many times before…we stop deceiving ourselves?

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

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

How many times before we start mending the wound?

How many times before we stop ignoring the facts?

How many times before we see,

How many times before we change,

How many times more before?