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a million SITA-s - Synopsis
a Neo Bharatam presentation

Through the lens of Sita, the timeless icon of womanhood, sacrifice, beauty, faith, constance and courage, Anita refracts and re-weaves the many strands of story, epic, myth, womanism and received lore. Five women are sketched in this work... Mandodari, Ahalya, Manthara, Surpanakha and the eternal Sita, who holds them all together. After the acclaimed Neo Bharatam work of NEELAM in 2006, Anita returns to a well known and beloved theme which she colours with her palette of eclectic accents through movement, life experience and theatre training.

A MILLION SITA-s is a reminder that this Indian heroine from a story, jumped out of the pages of an epic to cast her shadow in popular media, modern politics and social issues. SITA lives today in all Indian women and perhaps, in women around the world.

Choreographer's note
In most retellings of Sita's story, she is portrayed as submissive, sad and weeping copiously. These tears represent her virtue and suffering as inseparable from each other. Mirroring Sita's misery in modern day television and films, Indian heroines also weep copiously. This stereotypical weeping symbolizes a devoted and virtuous woman which stems from a deep rooted patriarchal and mysoginistic tradition. The Victorian model was also framed within the phrase that "men work, women weep." Prince Rama, the hero of his story also wept as do many modern heroes in film and life.

A MILLION SITA-s is not a feminist bashing of Rama. I believe that no culture or people who have revered and loved this story for centuries can be foolish and blind for so long as to admire a bad man. A MILLION SITA-s is a look at the iconic woman whose life and influence has jumped out of the pages of a story to occupy the minds of historians, philosophers, painters, social scientists, dancers, musicians, bards, architects, teachers and the common human being.

A MILLION SITA-s is a refraction of the many women who surround her and without whose interventions the crucial events in this immortal Adi Kavya would not have occurred. The solo dance-theatre work, developed and performed in my own style of NEO BHARATAM, will look at Mandodari, Ahalya, Manthara, Surpanakha and Sita, as the fulcrum who stands at the epicenter of this majestic and sweeping story of love, honour, courage, treachery and sacrifice.

A MILLION SITAs has the promise and premise for an evening of dance, theatre, music, visuals and performance design that will bring hidden and surprising accents to this much told and retold story.
- Dr. Anita Ratnam

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