Arangham moves boldly on with its unique blueprint for the celebration of art and theatre in the city of Chennai (Madras), India.  Recognising the urgency to sustain and nourish all talent at its nascency, as well as the imperative need for audience development, where youth become a participative force in change, festivals have been launched with their own well-defined goals for entertainment.

Naayika - a one-day film festival was organised on International Women's Day, 8th March,1997, at the South India Film Chamber of Commerce, Chennai.

The festival, which was part of the year-long celebration of India's 50th Anniversary of Independence by Arangham Trust, was inaugurated by noted film personalities - Aparna Sen (Calcutta), Saeed Mirza (Mumbai) and Kiron Kher (Mumbai), whose respective films, YUGANT, NASEEM and SARDARI BEGUM were screened.

In August 1994, Arangham mounted its first festival, Old Texts, New Textures - Explorations in Poetry and Movement. The 3-day event was dedicated to group choreography, based on classical forms. In the spirit of nurturing interaction among dancers and artists from other fields, this festival included a seminar in which choreographers shared aspects of their creative process with fellow dancers, theatre folk, designers, painters and sculptors.

As co-presenters with Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai, Arangham Trust pioneered Past Forward an exciting dance festival for talented young dancers / choreographers to perform in Chennai during January each year. The festival ran for three successful years, from 1998 to 2000

The festival showcased 3 performances either solo or by a group which draws its repertoire from the traditional storehouse of Indian dance and yet is influenced by the contemporary world in its artistic expression and interpretation.

The platform thus provided, encouraged innovation and creativity, allowing the art form to flourish and scale new peaks – breathing new life breath into the great traditions of music and dance – looking back and looking ahead…

Past Forward Festival - January 2000
Anusha Subramaniam (United Kingdom) - January 10
Anjali (Anne Marie Gaston) (Canada) - January 11
Syed Pasha & Vyjayanthi Kashi - Pasha (Bangalore) - January 12

Past Forward Festival - January 1999
Navtej Johar (New Delhi) - Bharatanatyam
Sankalpam (United Kingdom) - "Ulaa & Sambavam"

Past Forward Festival - January 1998
Lata Pada (Canada) - "Timescape"
Tripura Kashyap (Bangalore) - "Festive Drums of Kerala"
Arangham Dance Troupe (Chennai) - "Movements Monuments"

In August 1995, Purush - Dancer, Actor, Hero was conceived as a multi-cultural two-day festival. It was structured as an evening of classical dance featuring some of India's brilliant male dancers along with artistes from New York's Battery Dance Company; and a second all-day workshop with lecture demonstrations, performances, an art exhibition and a film show that embraced the role of the male in visual and performing arts.

Day 1
Aug 19, 1995 at Music Academy, Madras
CV Chandrasekhar - Bharatanatyam
Arjun Misra - Kathak
Sasidharan Nair - Kathakali
Pasumarthy Vithal - Kuchipudi
Keertik Nair - Bharatanatyam
"Testimony to Nataraja" - Modern dance by Kevin Predmore and John Freeman (New York)
with Anita Ratnam as Viraaj - The feminine creative principle

Accompanying Artists:
VA Aravindakshan - Vocal and Nattuvangam
OS Arun - Vocal
NK Kesavan - Mridangam
Nakul Mishra - Tabla
Natraj Sastry - Flute

Curated by Anita Ratnam and Jonathan Hollander
Produced and Directed by Anita Ratnam

Day 2
Aug 20, 1995 at Alliance Francaise, Madras
Purush: Dancer.Actor.Hero
A festival of visual and performing arts

Senior participants:
CP Unnikrishnan - Kathakali
Kalamandalam Gopinath - Kathakali
Laxminarayana Samaga - Yakshagana
Koothu-P-Pattarai - "Challenge" Silent Theatre
Francis Barboza - Religious and secular dance
CV Chandrasekhar - Bharatanatyam
Kanhailal and Sabitri - Movement Theatre of Imphal

"Expressions of Man" - Art exhibition and poetry reading by Ranvir Shah curated from the collection of "The Gallery"
"Impressions of Bhima" - A solo theatre presentation with Vinay Kumar directed by Veenapani Chawla
"Bhavanatarana" - A film on Kelucharan Mahapatra by Kumar Shahani

Anita Ratnam, Vasanthi Sankaranarayanan, VAK Ranga Rao

"I did not start THE OTHER FESTIVAL as a sure shot. I knew that it would be a long and lonely journey…but then I am a pioneer…I come from a family of self starters...and we know what it is like to be out there all alone hacking through the bushes...it will take time but I am very, very proud of the Madras audiences who are the best and the most mature in India for the alternative arts…" Anita Ratnam

The Other Festival was unlike any other in Chennai (Madras). Ever.

And has not been experienced in any other city, metro, town or village in India.
In short it was different.

ANITA RATNAM, noted dancer of international repute and art administrator and
RANVIR SHAH, theatre director, art critic and businessman
conceived, named and worked for this event from 1998 to 2006.

Aided by many professionals in the world of art, painting and advertising,
The Other Festival was a group effort.

For further details visit www.theotherfestival.com

"For 12 years, I abandoned the world of classical dance for life and work in the USA where I studied TV production and hosted my own weekly show from New York City for 10 years.
(Check Anita Ratnam – TV Ambassador). It is only after I returned to India that DANCE reappeared in my life as a healing and rejuvenating force. Now I have combined my management and media skills with the art of creating and packaging for a contemporary audience.

I come from a family of business pioneers, of "renaissance women" like my great grandmother and grandmother…I guess I have it in me to explore, experiment and take risks!

In order to play a proactive role in dance and in the broader world of culture I have embarked on a series of entrepreneurial initiatives. These initiatives have given me the strength and authority to step beyond the world of dance and to become empowered to speak about the validity of dance in particular and about the relevance of culture in our everyday lives.

India lives in many centuries. Why should its dance have only one face? When other contemporary Indian arts such as painting and writing are appreciated, why can't contemporary dance be too?

Indian professional dance is going through challenging times. The body of work in new dance and theatre is still nascent, tentative and small. There are many more classical dancers than contemporary dancers. That is why we have to respect the contemporary movement very much and nurture it.

The corporates are the modern patrons of art. I try to create corporate-sponsored programmes where artistes have a free hand to display their full potential in a conventional dance festival.

I feel it's the responsibility of every artist to give something back to society. We should find ways of reaching out and sharing values..." Anita Ratnam

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