VAITHARANI.. the crossing - Critics Speak
A solo dance-theatre performance by Anita Ratnam
60 mins, 2002
Ready as ever to try something new, Anita Ratnam has engaged head-on with two immutable but
cliche-ridden verities of life and death in her Vaitharani...It takes courage to stretch the scope of
traditional art. But Anita has always been happy to look for new ways of re-telling old beliefs by
giving them a facelift, a new form, a fresh voice. Vaitharani comes through as a well-knit melange
of dance, music and story - telling.
We in India, slip into it at the drop of a hat, that is, the descent from the sublime to the
pretentious....If Anita has avoided this trap, it is due to her clarity of vision. In the result, a
contemporary version of Indian dance has found its place in the mainstream festival. A
wedge in the door...
N.VAIDYANATHAN, CityExpress, Chennai Saturday, December 21, 2002
Anita Ratnam delights in presenting abstract, offbeat themes, mixing tradition with
modernity so impressively that she succeeds invariably in delighting her discerning audience
as well. Vaitharani stressed this passion again graphically...Portraying grippingly spiritual and
abstract ideas through the medium of theatre is a difficult art calling for unique skills. Anita
proved that she has these in abundant measure...
R SRINIVASAN, CityExpress, Chennai, Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Anita's solo VAITHARANI had moments of deep interest. Anita's preparation for the crossing,
the long red cloth which symbolised the river and the abinaya of fear on going to the other
shore was well rendered. The music was excellent…
SHANTA SERBJEET SINGH, Hindustan Times, Monday, December 16, 2002
ANITA RATNAM knows exactly the ways and means of blending the traditional idea into a
network of contemporary idiom of dance. Her recent production, titled "Vaitarani," focuses on
the Hindu belief of the Soul's crossing the river of bondage, and proceeding to ultimate
Salvation or Moksha…a well-conceived and well-executed idea.
Explaining abstract ideas with movement techniques as the major source of expression is by
no means an ordinary task. Also, to opt for a traditional idea like this and to assemble it in an
impressive manner is even more difficult. Herein Anita once again proved her multi-faceted
skill, as a dancer, choreographer, and theatre specialist.
NANDINI RAMANI, The Hindu, Friday, Friday, December 13, 2002
Anita's training in Bharatanatyam and Kathakali was obvious in her usage of body and her
expressions. Her body language and her emotions were truly moving.
YASODA THAKORE, Nartanam, October-December 2002
A gorgeously controlled dancer, she moved through many moods from grieving, to
combative, to happy in a journey that ended with the unravelling of a long bolt of red silk.
SUSAN WALKER, Dance Writer, Toronto Star, Canada, September 2002
Ratnam's complex Vaitharani ("The Crossing") was more dance-theatre than dance, using
the metaphor of hanging ropes to represent the memories of a past life that a soul
encounters as it journeys to its next destiny. A very visceral dancer, she used agonizing
sounds and strong, combative movement to depict the rigours of this voyage, with each
encounter with a rope triggering different emotional states.
The fusion choreography is fascinating. Movement and gestures from the past merge with
present-day modernisms, although in different ways. She also understands production
values, and the set pieces and lighting were exquisite.
PAULA CITRON, Dance Writer, The Globe and Mail, Canada, September 2002
Here was a stunningly beautiful mature woman using her body to convey a complex story. In
this score, I was very happy to see that there was very little actual translation of the myth
into spoken language. In so doing, the body of the dancer became the key medium through
which the myth of the crossing was conveyed. From my feminist perspective, the crossing
was a celebration of the glory and the beauty of mature women's body as a site of
accumulated knowledge, artistic/aesthetic creative energy and self-affirming sexuality.
AMINA MIRE, Member of the Audience at Toronto, Canada, a PhD candidate in the
Collaborative Women Studies Program in the institute for Women Studies and Gender Studies
of the University of Toronto