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Contemporary Indian dance in Toronto

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Anita Ratman, a colleague of mine, sent me the following press release today. Anyone in Canada curious about Indian dance? I know Ratman only as a writer and have never seen her choreography (I find her writing clear and interesting). I hope someone will go and report. I'm very curious about this. Some of the most interesting dance I've seen in the last decade has been the product of cross-breeding of Asian classical dancing and folk traditions with American modern dance. The choreographers, at least the ones I've seen, and these include people from mainland Japan, Okinawa, Korea, and Indonesia, are deeply aware of their classical and folk traditions and treat them with immense respect -- the insider view -- and have a curiousity and appetite for modern dance -- the outsider's view, but a very aware one -- that makes for interesting performances.


I am delighted to inform you of my latest work that is to be premiered at Canada on September 27 and 28, 2002 at 8pm at Harbourfront Centre's Premiere Dance Theatre, Toronto, Canada.

On invitation by Lata Pada, Sampradaya Dance Company, Toronto, Canada, I have been commissioned to do HYPHENATED, a group choreography for members of her dance company.

I will also be presenting a solo premiere, "VAITHARANI: the crossing" the same evening. Details of both productions are enclosed for your information.

Warm regards,


Artistic Director

Arangham Dance Theatre



An international choreography commission by Anita Ratnam

Of the 12 million South Asians living outside their native homelands, the diaspora which engages with life in North America is particularly interesting. It is a demographic and sociological phenomenon at how smoothly these immigrants have been able to imagine their homelands and intersect with the great North American dream. Affluence, upward mobility, status, achievement have not come without their share of conflicts and identity struggles.

HYPHENATED takes a peek through the psychological and emotional window of Canadian-born South Asians: the negotiations with their cultures and their vigorous daily engagement with traditional parents and contemporary ideas. Confidence is mixed with conflict, desires delicately laced with tiptoeing through the minefield of two worlds, one imagined and one real.

Janus-faced and confident, the current generation plunges into their unique lives. Bollywood movies blend with temple sculptures, values blur and are redefined in a new time and space.

Is the idea of South Asia a geographical border or a desire? Are they creating fictions, not actual cities but invisible ones, imaginary homeland? Are they South Asians of the mind?


Concept and Choreography: Anita Ratnam

Dancers: Anila Maharaj, Subha Navaratnasingam , Uppekha Jain and Vidya Rao

Musicians: Debashis Sinha and Ernie Tollar

Costumes: Anita Ratnam

Text: Writtten and vocalised by the dancers in collaboration with Anita


Acknowledgments: To all the dancers who invited me into their lives to grab

a peek at their internal 'hyphens'... and to Lata who believed in me enough to hang on to this dream for the last four years.

VAITHARANI.. the crossing

A contemporary dance performance by ANITA RATNAM

In a second, the faintest perfume may send us plummeting to the roots of our

being, our whole life verticalized by a fleeting sensation: we have been

connected by a mere smell to another place and another time. All our

experiences are like that haunting scent. Time itself is cyclic, and by the

spiral of its returning seasons we review the progress and growth of our own understanding. Ours is the spiral house we build to keep us from life's

continuous outpouring, from an otherwise unchecked flow into the unknown.

Going on means going far

Going far means returning

All ancient cultures speak of the journey of the soul after it has left the

physical body. In ancient Hindu and Tibetan writings, death is a necessary

rite of passage for the voyage of the soul. Through the myriad landscapes

that the soul traverses, a hot and bloody river gushes in its path. This is

VAITHARANI, the river of memories which is the daunting reminder of time,

human life and all our actions we have made and experienced. At that river

bank the soul can make a decision to return to its spiral path and assume

another life-form for another chance at a life-experience. To cross the

dangerous river is to forget everything, only to remember that cooling

waters and healing streams are also waiting to claim your tired soul from

another chance at life..

The mind weeps at what it has lost

The soul laughs at what it has found


Concept, Choreography and Performance: ANITA RATNAM


Soundscape arranged by: DEBASIS SINHA

Jathis composed by: KSR ANIRUDHA



Research Professor: VISHNU BHAT and V SADAGOPAN


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