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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



AUDIENCE REACTION

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