Nov 13, 2008
Dance and storytelling session with professional story teller's group from USA at Studio Arangham


Dear Anita Ratnam,

Thank you so much for the workshop on “Dance and Storytelling” that you led on Thursday, November 13, from 3 to 6pm, for our group of “storytelling tourists”! As you know, this group was gathered and brought to Tamil Nadu by Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo and Nancy Wang of the Eth-Noh-Tec storytelling company (based in San Francisco). The group -- 18 people in all -- was in Chennai and vicinity for a two-week introduction to types of storytelling in Tamil Nadu. The World Storytelling Institute, directed by myself, arranged the workshops. Your workshop was a highlight of the trip. Your workshop occurred near the end of the trip, and your perspective -- that of a contemporary Indian dancer and choreographer -- on storytelling, the traditional dance genre of Bharata Natyam, and related topics, provided a refreshing point of view that helped the group members integrate much of what they had been exposed to previously on the trip.

Thanks very much especially for performing and discussing the Face Section of the Tara piece, and the brief version of the Ramayana. Your demonstration and discussion of the hand gestures (mudras) and facial expressions used to create the nine emotions of classical Indian aesthetics was particularly helpful. In general, your demonstration and discussion of aspects of Bharata Natyam, contemporary Indian dance, mechanics of the human body, and general principles of stagecraft, seemed to me -- as I said at the time -- to be a glorious representation of what the performing arts are all about. It was breathtaking to receive this presentation from, and engage in this discussion with, a nationally and internationally acclaimed performer and choreographer such as yourself, who is more accustomed to performing for 2,000 people than for 20 people.

In sum, the group members were thrilled and enchanted with your workshop, as were myself and the co-founder of the WSI, Jeeva Raghunath. We were all also very grateful for your very kind and gracious hospitality in your workshop space.

Many, many thanks again,
Eric Miller, Director, World Storytelling Institute, Chennai
28 November, 2008