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Anita uses her art as a springboard to innovate, experiment, and provoke fresh thought. Her fluid choreography and repertoire of solo and group performances reflect both her Indian heritage and cross cultural influences.

Anita's impassioned artistry focuses on "creativity without borders", placing the Indian performing arts centrestage on the international arena.

"The vocation of a dancer is more than a job. It is a calling. It is more than a life's work. To be able to create new dance in India requires a whole new attitude about oneself and about one's relationship to the craft and the art of dance.

Being a dancer-choreographer, very conscious about Euro-centric influences in all forms of our life, I am actively trying to create an Asian aesthetic in contemporary performance practice, in my own work and in my philosophy of dance-art.

In my personal artistic journey, I have navigated collaborations with a modern painter from India, a poet from New Mexico, a modern dancer from New York, a choreographer from Pennsylvania, a sculptor from India, a musician from Germany, a Canadian photographer, an American actress and a contemporary Indian writer who writes in English. These are but a few of my links established over the last 12 years, which define me more and more as an artist who crosses boundaries.

With each new encounter I strengthen my awareness of what it is to be a woman, an artiste, an Indian. My responsibility of who I am and what I project becomes more and more acute. This cross pollination of art and life, of character and self, female and male all echoes the Vedic concept "I am the world". Anita Ratnam

Anita travels around India and beyond with her work. Some of her notable performances in India have been at:
  • Annual Dance & Arts Festival in December at Chennai (Madras)
  • Taj Mahotsav (Agra)
  • Kinkini Festival; Bangalore Habba (Bangalore)
  • Ganesh Festival (Pune)
  • Natyanjali Festival (Chidambaram)
  • Festivals at Puri, Khajuraho, Konark, Trivandrum, Vijayawada & Mumbai

She has also toured the Far East, Europe and the USA to perform, conduct dance workshops, participate in seminars and conferences, and share ideas in Arts Management. (Check International Collaborations)

Dance Training
Anita Ratnam has trained in Bharatanatyam under Guru Adayar K Lakshman (Chennai), Smt S Sarada (Kalakshetra) and Sarada Hoffman (Kalakshetra). She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Dance from Kalakshetra

Her training in Mohiniattam was under Trichur P Ramanathan (Chennai) and Chinna Ammu Ammal (Kerala).

Kathakali was an additional area of interest that Anita Ratnam trained in under the guidance of Kalamandalam Balasubramaniam Warrier (Kerala). She performed a full length Kathakali concert in Chennai in 1978.

"Bharatanatyam is the mainstay of my work and the vocabulary of my body. It is what I use all the time and what I always return to. It is the vocabulary that makes me most comfortable. To me it is the most compelling solo dance tradition in the world.

I have not learnt three dance forms to mix them up like a "masala fusion mix". I learnt all three very naturally. I felt that Bharatanatyam was not giving me the entire body curvature and freedom that I wanted and so I studied Mohiniattam. Then I was fascinated by the theatrical quality of Kathakali and the fact that it was so powerful in its communication techniques. So I learnt that also for three years. Now I combine the kinetic quality of all three to create what suits my body and the style is my own - very Indian and very contemporary.

I practice calisthenics, yoga and Tai Chi for additional strength and flexibility. So I look at the entire vocabulary of movement that I contain in my body as sedimentation and draw from there.

I have learnt that the expressions of the body are infinite and we need to unlearn some of our training in order to open ourselves up to the entire vocabulary available to us as dancers. In doing so we will not be unfaithful to our source for in tradition is the basis of our cultural DNA and then we can begin to become world citizens in the increasingly exciting world of art." - Anita Ratnam

Collaborations In Theatre
"In my art, collaboration is of primary importance. By bringing together several artistic disciplines, we weave an inimitable fabric that celebrates the diversity of our thoughts and modes of working.

I have had wonderful opportunities to work with top professionals in theatre, dance and music. That kind of work really excites me as an artist and choreographer. Another aspect that has been really interesting and challenging has been creating movement design based on wordscapes, rather than familiar soundscapes so vital to dance!" Anita Ratnam

Always open to new approaches, Anita Ratnam has enjoyed working in cross-disciplinary theatre productions that have caught attention and applause. One of her earliest such explorations was Inner World, a US collaboration where she was invited in 1998 to choreograph an act.

Thiraikadalodi (Akam)?, a choreo-play in English and Tamil about war, violence, women and exile was another such venture, directed by Prasanna Ramaswamy. In collaboration with Paatini, Anita Ratnam produced the work, as well as acted and choreographed the movement sections in the play. It premiered at Chennai in August 2003.

Her most recent theatrical enterprise All too REAL! a witty satire and choreo theatre in English, was scripted and directed by Prasanna Ramaswamy. It was presented to much appreciation in January 2004 at the Katha Utsav celebrations at New Delhi.

Television & Cinema in India
"To be a dancer is not a monologue with myself or a dialogue with my reflection in the mirror. Journalism and New York City has taught me that if you put the mirror down and turn your back to it, the whole world opens up to you." Anita Ratnam

Besides dance, Anita's many interests have taken her into the realm of television and cinema.

In 1997, Anita Ratnam was invited to present a special docu-drama for television during the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of India's independence. Vande Mataram was the resulting effort.

Again in 1999, for India's national television channel Doordarshan 1, Anita choreographed Vaigarai - A New Dawn, a dance-theatre production specially created during the birth anniversary celebrations of one of India's greatest advocates of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi.

Along with acclaimed actor Dhritaman Chatterjee, she has played the lead role in The Final Curtain, an absorbing drama directed by Chetan Shah and Dhanushkodi. This telefilm is based on the Sahitya Akademi award-winning author, Ashokamitran's short story "Ending of the Play". Filmed in English and Hindi, it was presented by the British Council and Madras Players (Theatre Club) in Feb.1999. The TV adaptation however went beyond the framework of a playwright's infatuation with the heroine he has created and her devotion to her lover who is destined to die in the play.

Anita has recently also made small forays into the world of Tamil cinema.

A cameo performance in noted ad filmmaker and director Rajiv Menon's hugely successful film Kandukondain Kandukondain, won her much notice and appreciation. The film boasts of a mammoth star caste of top Indian film stars like Aishwarya Rai, Tabu, Mamooty, Ajith, Abbas and Srividya.

In 2002, Anita Ratnam undertook another supporting role in the youth film "Boys" directed by Shankar, which has further extended her reach and recognition.

"The original role in Kandukondein Kandukondein was quite wonderful. After I finished the shooting for about 9 days and 14 scenes, I found that all that I had liked in the role had been cut out since the distributors and the producer did not like what the director had in mind. Rajiv Menon is a friend of mine and he asked me repeatedly to do the role since he had a different image of a woman in mind and not the regular evil filmi women... but with the cutting out of the key human scenes, the role became meaningless. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the experience and do not want to repeat acting in movies unless my role is totally specified and not dependent on the vagaries of distributors and patriarchal control freaks!

Cinema as it exists in South India today does not interest me since there is no real role for women... If there is something like a doctor, scientist, collector... something with brains... I will do it."

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