Ananya Chatterjea

Founder, Artistic Director, Choreographer, Dancer. Since 2004. Leader, Shawngram Institute for Performance & Social Justice.

Her recent work, Shyamali, was described as “brimming with memorable moments and activist passion” (Star Tribune, 9/17/17) and her choreography has been applauded for “never flinch(ing) from exposing injustices women around the globe are subjected to daily” (Star Tribune, 9/19/16).

She has toured her work to Ethiopia with State Department support, presenting the keynote performance at the Crossing Boundaries Festival in Addis Ababa (2015); to the Bethlehem International Performing Arts Festival, Palestine (2018); the Aavejak Avaaz and Pragjyoti International Dance Festivals, India (2018), the Harare International Dance Festival, Zimbabwe (2013), the New Waves Institute of Dance and Performance, Trinidad (2012), and other national and international locations.

Ananya is Professor of Dance at the University of Minnesota, where she teaches courses in Dance Studies and technique. She presented the keynote talk at the joint conference of Congress of Research in Dance and Society of Dance History Scholars (2016). She is currently writing her second book, under contract with Palgrave McMillan, exploring the politics of “contemporary dance” from the perspective of artists from global communities of color.

UBW Partnership Fellow | Site Visit February 28 - March 2, 2019 // Residency #1 September 23 - 28, 2019 // Residency #2 February 15 - 22, 2020

Fires of Lost Homes

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 Fires of Lost Homes. 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.

Fires of Lost Homes is scheduled to premiere at The O'Shaughnessy in St. Paul, MN in September 2020.

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.

  • Chatterjea and Ferreira in residence for <em>Fires of Lost Homes</em>
  • Chatterjea andFerreira in rehearsal for <em>Fires of Lost Homes</em>
  • Chatterjea and Ferreira rehearse in the Black Box studio
  • Ferreira and Chatterjea rehearse in the Black Box studio
  • Ferreira and Chatterjea rehearse
  • Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, writer Sharon Bridgforth, Ferreira, and Chatterjea in the Black Box studio
  • Zollar speaks to Chatterjea, Ferreira, and Bridgforth
  • Ferreira, Bridgforth, and Chatterjea in discussion
  • Ferreira, Bridgforth, Chatterjea, and Zollar speak to Dr. Hannah Schwadron's School of Dance class
  • Ferreira, Bridgforth, and Chatterjea speak to Dr. Schwadron's School of Dance class
  • Chatterjea and Ferreira speak to Karen Woodall with the Florida People’s Advocacy Center
  • Chatterjea speaks to Woodall with the Florida People’s Advocacy Center
  • Bridgforth, Chatterjea, Ferreira, and Carla Peterson in a round table discussion
  • Bridgforth, Chatterjea, Ferreira, and Peterson in a round table discussion
  • Bridgforth and Chatterjea watch Ferreira
  • Chatterjea and Ferreira rehearse in the Black Box studio
  • Chatterjea rehearses in the Black Box studio
  • Chatterjea and Ferreira rehearse in the Black Box studio
  • Chatterjea teaches an FSU School of Dance master class
  • Chatterjea teaches an FSU School of Dance master class
  • Chatterjea and Ferreira teach an FSU School of Dance master class
  • Jawole Willa Jo Zollar speaks to writer Sharon Bridgforth and Ananya Chatterjea in residence for <br><em>Fires of Lost Homes</em>
  • Chatterjea speaks to collaborators and FSU School of Dance students in rehearsal
  • Bridgforth works in the Black Box studio
  • Chatterjea with collaborators and FSU School of Dance students in rehearsal
  • Chatterjea with collaborators and FSU School of Dance students in rehearsal
  • Chatterjea with collaborators and FSU School of Dance students in rehearsal
  • Chatterjea with collaborators and FSU School of Dance students in rehearsal
  • Chatterjea with collaborators and FSU School of Dance students in rehearsal
  • Bridgforth and Chatterjea work together in the Black Box studio
  • Chatterjea's collaborators and FSU School of Dance students in rehearsal
  • Chatterjea with collaborators and FSU School of Dance students in rehearsal
  • Chatterjea teaches a masterclass in the School of Dance
  • Students Ahmad Ratliff and Taylor West dance behind Kealoha Ferreira in FSU School of Dance <br>Master Class
  • Students West, Ratliff, and Rachel Hickman dance behind Alexandra Eady in FSU School of Dance <br>Master Class
  • Chatterjea with Jeremy Guyton in FSU School of Dance Master Class
  • Chatterjea instructs West in FSU School of Dance Master Class
  • Jawole Willa Jo Zollar introduces Ananya Chatterjea before work-in-progress showing in the Black Box <br>Theater
  • Chatterjea with collaborators Alexandra Eady, Lizzette Chapa, and Kealoha Ferreira
  • Chatterjea, Eady, Ferreira, and Chapa during work-in-progress showing in the Black Box Theater
  • Eady, Chapa, Ferreira, and Chatterjea during work-in-progress showing in the Black Box Theater
  • Eady, Chapa, Chatterjea, and Ferreira during work-in-progress showing in the Black Box Theater
  • Chapa, Eady, Chatterjea, and Ferreira during work-in-progress showing in the Black Box Theater
  • Eady, Chatterjea, Chapa, and Ferreira during work-in-progress showing in the Black Box Theater
  • Chatterjea, collaborators, and audience engage in a post-showing discussion in the Black Box Theater
  • Director of the Florida People's Advocacy Center Karen Woodall speaks at post-showing discussion
  • Chatterjea and Ferreira during post-showing discussion in the Black Box Theater
  • Writer Sharon Bridgforth and collaborator Spirit McIntyre work together in the Black Box studio
  • Collaborators Eady and Spirit rehearse in the Black Box studio
  • Chatterjea, Ferreira, Chapa, and Eady rehearse in the Black Box studio
  • Chatterjea, Bridgforth, and Spirit in discussion
Fall 2019 Collaborators in Residence: Kealoha Alex Ferreira [Performer], Sharon Bridgforth [Writer]
Spring 2020 Collaborators in Residence: Lizzette Chapa, Alexandra Eady, Kealoha Alex Ferreira [Performers], Sharon Bridgforth [Writer/Dramaturg], Spirit McIntyre [Composer]

World Premiere

Ananya Chatterjea

Fires of Lost Homes
September 25 & 26
The O'Shaughnessy

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