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HER and BLISS.. in chapters - Responses
experiments in neo bharatam
a collection of dances exploring the divine feminine through dance, voice, storytelling and ritual gesture

Response to performance at Laguna Beach, California on July 6, 2013

We were treated to an enchanting evening of dance by Anita Ratnam in Orange County, California.
Her performance was original with distinctive flavor.  She has her own unique way of combining the old and the new, tradition and innovation. The irrepressible force of her dance, her rare combination of pure and beautiful lyrical line with unusual expressiveness and imperious dynamism, made this a unique experience.  Her abhinaya nuances are intimately connected with her state of mind and her imagination which evokes the vivid images of the stories in the audience. In her choreographic genius, Anita manages more detail in the same passage than any dancer I have seen.

She brought energy and enthusiasm to the dance.  The pieces she chose were creativity through interpretation where the performer and the viewer were in the same stream of consciousness.  It was a living poem of grace and beauty with an inner quality that communicates the joy and essence of creativity instantly.  She is superbly skilled, dancing with the whole body or just a flick of the eyes.

 Anita’s commitment to advancing Bharatanatyam to the modern era was evident throughout the performance

- Kanch Dore' (Passionate rasika of Dance & Life), July 13, 2013

Responses to performance at Kolkata - Conclave in association with Weaver's Studio Centre for the Arts and Rhythmosaic Dance Company presented A DAY WITH THE LEGEND Anita Ratnam 

* "Anita created a personal imprint onto her performance- something that has not been seen for a long time" - Somnath.G.Kutty & Thankamani Kutty

* "It was exciting to see how Bharatanatyam can be contemporaised in its own traditional framework" - Malabika Sen

* "Commanding presence and intelligent and judicial choice of movements made Anita's performance truly riveting" - Anita Mallick, Saraswat

* "As a Contemporary Classicist Dr. Ratnam proved, through her workshop and performance, to be an eye opener for a new generation of artists" - Dr. Mitul Sengupta, Ronnie Shambik Ghose, Director and Artistic Director, Rhythmosaic Dance Company

It was an exceptional treat indeed to see Anita's work, especially in such close circumstances. As was pointed out, the removal of "layers" such as the sari, the jewelry, and the distance that comes with a larger space simply made the work even more immediate and powerful. I greatly appreciated Anita's "translations" of the work prior to the showings, as they helped this lay person learn bits of the gestural language, thus increasing even further my appreciation of the storytelling in the pieces themselves. The direct address of these translations also helped to make the event more intimate, building a deeper tie between the artist and the viewer, a technique that I'd find equally valuable in a larger setting.

What most thrilled me was Anita's fusion of traditional Bharatanatyam elements with contemporary elements and techniques. These make her work old and new at the same time, and they provide a special thrill for folks who know just enough about the original form to recognize the bold choices she is making. This appreciation may not be available to newcomers to Indian dance, but that's not a problem: the work is beautiful, moving, and provocative in its own right, too!

Big thanks to you, Ketu, for inviting Anita to our campus, and big thanks to Anita for sharing her gifts and insights with us! Hurrah!!!

- Cliff Faulkner in response to performance and lecture demonstration at University of Irvine, California on April 5, 2011

I want to say how amazing it was having Ms. Ratnam here with us. I am so thrilled and honored to have been able to attend her amazing presentation!

A very large component of my training and professional work was my work in Deaf theatre. Being half-deaf myself (I'm deaf in one ear since childhood), I have always had an affinity with other deaf people, and with Deaf culture. As such, I was compelled by how richly intricate and ample Ms. Ratnam's use of gestural language is in her dancing. I recognize that the signs and gestures she uses are symbolic and ritualistic rather than linguistic and formalized. However, her striking proficiency in the execution of those gestures, and the amplitude with which she incorporates them into her artistry is stunning.

In addition, the opportunity to sit in a very intimate space and to see, up close, the extraordinarily vivid work she does with her face and body, was a privilege. Her presentational (lecture) technique, of rendering her auditors privy to what the narratives were, as means of narrowing the gulf of alienation between audience and what could so easily be objectified and rendered "exotic" by our western purview. So I was very grateful for that.

I felt enriched when I left the room, despite missing what I'm sure went on to be a very insightful conversation that I regretted having to miss.

Ms. Ratnam's technique of narrowing the gulf between performer and audience, with the rendering of narrative, I found extremely adept and effective in diminishing the (all too frequent) tendency to exoticize that which we don't understand. Her elaborating what it is we are about to see, enables even closer attention to aesthetic detail rather than the generalizing dismissal to the realm of exosticism.

- Jaye Austin Williams, 2010-2011 Graduate Diversity Fellow in response to performance and lecture demonstration at University of Irvine, California on April 5, 2011

Her & Bliss - Anita Ratnam
Asia House, London, Feb 22, 2011

Responses to Dance and Discussion on the Divine Feminine titled HER and BLISS…in chapters, by Anita Ratnam for Jnanapravaha, Mumbai on October 29 & 30, 2010
- Dr. Rashmi Poddar (art historian and cultural curator), Oct 2010
- Kaiwan Mehta (Architect, and Researcher in the field of Visual Culture), Oct 2010

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