UBW Partnership Fellow | Site Visit February 28 - March 2, 2019 // Residency #1 September 23 - 28, 2019 // Residency #2 February 15 - 22, 2020
Dastak: I Wish You Me
As part of a partnership with Urban Bush Women’s (UBW) Choreographic Center Initiative’s (CCI) Choreographic Fellows Program, MANCC welcomed Minneapolis-based artist Ananya Chatterjea to Tallahassee for a March 2019 site-visit, followed by residencies in September 2019 and February 2020 to further develop her work, previously titled Fires of Lost Homes and now titled Dastak: I Wish You Me. Chatterjea describes the title change as a result of the COVID pandemic, which impacted communities differently, and also substantially connected to the pandemics of the murders of black people leading to the Uprising, and the lack of care around affordable housing, leading to the sanctuaries in public parks. These conditions link the films to the conversations at MANCC.
Her residencies marked the second of three sets of residencies in this three-year partnership program with the UBW CCI, which utilizes a two-pronged approach that advances the work of individual women choreographers from the African, and in the case of Chatterjea, Indian Diaspora while bringing about systemic change in the field of dance. Supported by UBW, Chatterjea’s March 2019 site-visit helped familiarize her with the MANCC staff and their specific roles in support of residency artists, MANCC’s facilities within FSU’s School of Dance, and the possibilities of research that then took place during her fall and spring residencies.
Situated at the intersection of contemporary Indian dance and social justice, Chatterjea’s work with her company, Ananya Dance Theatre, fuses tradition with innovation. In her explorations into how traditional and contemporary forms and structures meet, Chatterjea places great emphasis on footwork. She seeks to push the form forward by asking, for example, how to incorporate bells, which her company dancers do not wear on their ankles as they would in more classical forms. In the past, she has avoided using bells because of the traditional symbolism they carry. However, she is newly interested in figuring out how she can incorporate them into her contemporary work as an additional exploration into sound and vibration.
Returning from a recent tour of India in January 2020 where she continued her training with various master practitioners, Chatterjea remains interested in the notion of journey and return through an exploratory lens. With this idea of journey comes the fact of migration and, more specifically, the partition of India, and also the discussion of a fraught border wall here in the U.S.. She seeks to understand the ways in which large groups of people move to create more meaning in their lives.
In addition to these broad conceptual ideas, Chatterjea maintains a commitment to local communities, especially dialoguing with young people and women of color. During her fall MANCC residency, she had the opportunity to meet with Karen Woodall, Director of the Florida People’s Advocacy Center, as well as Shalini Goel Agarwal who serves as a Senior Supervising Attorney in the area of Criminal Justice Reform at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Chatterjea also taught two masterclasses to School of Dance students, engaging them in her contemporary practice within a non-Western form.
Returning this spring, Chatterjea taught three masterclasses to School of Dance students, this time alongside her collaborator and Artistic Associate, Kealoha Ferreira and collaborators Alexandra Eady and Lizzette Chapa, proving her company’s emphasis on collaboration and shared responsibility to create intention and action. Chatterjea also worked with five undergraduate and graduate School of Dance students in the studio who participated in a work-in-progress showing and open dialogue about social justice dance, which was co-hosted with FSU’s Center for Global Engagement. Both Woodall and Agarwal attended, alongside some of their colleagues and FSU students, faculty, and staff from across disciplines on campus.
As part of MANCC’s Embedded Writer Program, Sharon Bridgforth worked with Chatterjea during both of her residencies in the role of writer and dramaturg. Additionally, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founder of Urban Bush Women and FSU’s Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Dance served as a mentor during the site visit and residencies.
The work was scheduled to premiere at The O'Shaughnessy in St. Paul, MN, in September 2020, but has been postponed due to COVID. The Company has adapted the work to outdoor spaces, resulting in four dance films created by Darren Johnson, and looks forward to live, indoor performances in 2021.
These two residencies, as well as Chatterjea’s site visit and Sharon Bridgforth’s participation in the Embedded Writer Program, were supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Spring 2020 Collaborators in Residence: Lizzette Chapa, Alexandra Eady, Kealoha Alex Ferreira [Performers], Sharon Bridgforth [Writer/Dramaturg], Spirit McIntyre [Composer]