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ANITA RATNAM (Artistic Director, Arangham Dance Theatre), as dancer, choreographer, cultural commentator, actor-producer and publisher, reinforces an exciting and vigorous vocabulary in her art and life.

Her foundational training is in Bharatanatyam in the Kalakshetra style, supplemented by the Kerala traditions of Kathakali and Mohiniattam. Ratnam holds a Master's degree in Theatre and Television from the University of New Orleans. After 10 years as a New York television producer (1980-90) including a weekly talk show, the highly acclaimed "Festival of India" television series, and two Emmy nominations, she returned to India.

Based in Chennai, she founded Arangham Trust in 1992, a foundation for the promotion and international collaboration of dance and allied performance disciplines. She co-founded and directed The Other Festival (1998 - 2006) - India's only annual contemporary arts festival. In 2000 she created www.narthaki.com, the award-winning Indian dance portal with over 300,000 hits each month.

An ambassador for the arts, Ratnam's artistic ventures bear witness to her belief in collaboration. Personal choreographic interests focus on developing a very specific Asian cultural aesthetic. She has developed a unique style of performance, which uses voice, martial arts, dance and chanting.

With Native American poet Joy Harjo, she created A Map to the Next World (1997); with Pangea World Theatre in Minneapolis, Inner World (1998); with Indian writer Shobita Punja, Daughters of the Ocean (1999) which toured India to much acclaim and with Mark Taylor of Dance Alloy, Pittsburgh, USA, Dust (2001). She was commissioned by Toronto's Lata Pada to create a company work Hyphenated (2002) concerning race, identity and transcultural experience. In 2005 she collaborated with Canada-based Hari Krishnan and diverse talent from USA and India to create Seven Graces... the many hues of Goddess Tara, on the Buddhist Goddess Tara. She is also collaborating with Canadian dance artist Peter Chin on another solo choreography Vortext in 2006.

A cultural activist, an articulate advocate for women's rights and a compelling speaker, Ratnam addresses diverse forums and constantly innovates new roles for community participation in the arts. A voting member of the Dance Critics Assocation (USA), she has been invited to chair seminars and dance conferences around the world. In 2002, she was invited as an observer to the Post Modern Dance Festival at Leipzig, Germany and once again to teach at the Global Dance Forum in Dusseldorf.

One of India's most celebrated dance icons, she uses the arts as a proactive tool for change and visits many educational institutions around India and abroad to conduct contact workshops, write, speak and share her innovative ideas on dance and 'physical theatre'.

Anita holds a PhD in Women's Studies and is currently engaged in a retelling of the ancient epic RAMAYANA from a feminist perspective.

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