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Daughters of the Ocean (discovering the goddess within...) - India Tour
A Contemporary Dance Theatre Production by Anita Ratnam & ADT
60 mins, 1999


We tested our show here first in January 1999 before residents who speak no Tamil, limited English and more French, Italian and Portuguese. Their positive feedback provided the right impetus to complete the production and take it back in October 18,1999.

Our musician backed out at the last minute due to a trip to Sabarimala. A dear friend, Tapas Bhatt who manages Khala Khoj (a center for artistes to interface at Auroville), provided us with a marvellous musician from Austria called Aurelio, who is a collector of gongs (he has over 75 different types!) and steered us through a wonderful evening's performance. "I entered the river," said Pierre Legrand, an artist at Auroville!

Our capital city is the ultimate in jaded boredom. It's a tough job to just hold their attention. We performed here on October 24, 1999, at The Habitat Centre. Shobita Punja, on whose book our work is based, introduced the show and talked of knowing Anita Ratnam and old associations. She was seeing the work for the first time too and was inexpressibly moved. She called it a "brave and generous work" where even the finger tips of the performers danced!

The show was a smash hit, with some in the audience even moved to tears! An extremely warm feedback from scholar critics Sunil Kothari, Leela Venkatraman, Shanta Serbjeet Singh, Shobita herself, and friends, helped us strengthen and vary the movement patterns, which were incorporated for our other shows.

There were apprehensions about performing at Hyderabad because it has a very traditional audience that is just waking up to contemporary work. Despite the huge attention the state of Andhra Pradesh has received for being cyber-savvy, the performing arts has not really broken new ground on its terrain.

We presented our work at Rabindra Bharathi, on February 8, 2000, at the inauguration of a new festival, "STRI" by an organization called "Rasa", started by two women dancers of the city. The production allows for flashes from the past to be incorporated spontaneously and Anita's meeting with an old friend, Rachel, at the venue, brought in more memories to the show. Classical dancers felt they had never seen such new images of Saraswathi and Durga never thought it could be done this way. Others felt the stage seemed so full- as if 20 dancers performed, not just 4! The media arrived in hordes and the feedback was stimulating!


Performing at the National Council for the Performing Arts(NCPA), Experimental Theatre soon after Hyderabad on February 11, 2000, was a daunting experience at first. The audience seemed so cold and unresponsive refused to laugh or join in the river's journey and we wondered if we had lost them. But the interface with the audience at the end of the performance opened a flood of questions which showed how much of an impact we had made. The treatment came in for a lot of questions and extremely constructive suggestions made.

The use of a personal narrative with myth is an altogether new genre and the response everywhere shows that it works. The Arangham Dance Group has been invited to perform at Mumbai again for the Kala Ghoda festival in 2001, besides other offers that are being negotiated.

The Chennai premiere of "Daughters of the Ocean" between September 2nd - 4th, 2000, was a celebrated three-day event where the author of the book "Daughters... ", Dr Shobita Punja, also arriving from New Delhi for the event.

Opportunities to perform excerpts from the work at Chennai happened first on March 26, 2000 for a fundraiser for cancer research in memory of Anita Ratnam's late uncle, DrRangarajan. Called "The Churning", it wove in from the Goddess Lakshmi myth and from Saraswathi the river, like Anita's uncle's life, suddenly changing direction and effecting changes on the way.

The August premiere saw special shows exclusively for Chennai's school students that met with a huge response. (Check Arts-In-Education for more details) The evening shows for the public also met with full houses and enthusiastic post performance discussions with the author Dr Shobita Punja, Anita Ratnam and Arangham Dance Theatre.

The success and interest generated by the production led to other developments. Penguin India, went into a reprint of Shobita Punja's book of "Daughters... " The cover for the new print edition was of Anita Ratnam photographed by noted Canadian photographer Cylla Von Tiedemann.The book was made available at the Chennai and New Delhi showings of "Daughters... " and were completely sold out!

The second presentation of "The Churning" was during a showcase of Arangham's work, "eX-tradition", on March 30, 2000 at the auditorium of The Alliance Francaise de Chennai. Here too the reactions were heart-warming with this excerpt being rated by some as "the best part" of the evening's show!

Also Check Arts-in-Education for more details