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.
artistry focuses on "creativity without borders", placing the Indian performing
arts centrestage on the international arena.
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
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
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.
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".
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)
Bangalore Habba (Bangalore)
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
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
in Mohiniattam was under Trichur P Ramanathan (Chennai) and Chinna Ammu
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.
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
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
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
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
(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.
& Cinema in India
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's many interests have taken her into the realm of television and
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
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.
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!
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."