Workshops / Arts-in-Education
"Culture Window" for NIFT Freshers - July 6 & 7, 2004, NIFT Campus,
As part of
NIFT's orientation programme for their first year entrants, Anita Ratnam
and ADT members were invited to showcase South Indian arts and culture
as a two-day programme.
freshers were held spell-bound by the variety and depth of ADT's repertoire
and collaborations, including the NID-artisan-inspired Ganesha mask in
palm leaves and the innovative use of fabric in performance.
The focus of
the programme was to inspire students to think/interpret independently
and to realize the importance of the creative journey they are embarking
invited by Arangham included Ms Prabha Nagaraj on natural and organic fibres
and Mithran Devanesen on art appreciation.
WORKSHOP WITH BIWAKEI DANCE COMPANY (Japan)
with the Japanese Consulate (Chennai), Arangham Dance Theatre arranged
a one-day exploratory movement workshop with members of Biwakei, a visiting
contemporary dance company from Japan. Held on March 1, 2004 at Launch
Pad, Chennai, the workshop proved to be an absorbing encounter that opened
new insights into two approaches to dance.
director, Yetsuko Yamada and ADT's Anita Ratnam shared common ground in
their search for a contemporary idiom to their work. Both companies discovered
they had dancers from disparate backgrounds who were working together to
create new work. The explorations in each other's dance styles and the
short demonstrations from individual repertoire stirred a lot of interest
It is hoped
to carry this collaboration forward through further dialogue and enrich
each other's vocabularies.
At an exploratory
movement workshop, Setsuko Yamada and her troupe, Biwakei, met Anita Ratnam
and dancers from Arangham Dance Theatre. (After demonstrations of each
other's work, there were questions.) Anita and her team wanted to know
how they discussed and visualized ideas, how they worked on a piece and
how much time the creative process took. Biwakei's questions related to
the Indian idea of working with a particular image to create a piece. They
found "a great connection to the earth in Indian dance" and that it has
a palpable mental and physical energy. Setsuko said "The energy seems to
be natural, as if it cannot be learnt with training or practice. In Japanese
dance, the feeling of energy is more internalized."
SHALINI UMACHANDRAN, The Hindu, Metroplus, Tuesday, March 9, 2004
WITHIN TRADITION", FOR KARTHIK FINE ARTS
21, 2003 @ Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai for Kartik Fine Arts
Chitra Visweswaran and Sudharani Raghupathy, Kartik Fine Arts hosted Natya
Darshan II, a seminar on dance dramas on December 20, 21 and 22, 2003 at
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai.
The theme of
the lec-dems on 21st morning was 'Exploration within tradition.' The presenters
were Anita Ratnam (creativity within boundaries), Radhika Shurajit (dance
through the lens) and Ananda Shankar Jayant (group choreography evolution
of a visual vocabulary).
A past student
of Kalakshetra, Anita Ratnam spoke about the farsightedness of Rukmini
Devi who had used kalari movements in one of her productions even as far
back as 1960s. In an excerpt from Daughters of the Ocean, she demonstrated
the interweaving of martial arts movements like tai chi into her dance
her experiences in the television medium, Anita lays a lot of stress on
visual imagery. Invited frequently to present programs on particular social
themes by social organizations or by corporates, she finds the choreographic
process a big challenge to not only make the presentation visually pleasing
but to also convey the intended message to the audience. She said she frequently
uses the cloth as a means of expression for various moods and moments.
To demonstrate this, Anita and her group of dancers presented an excerpt
from her dance-theatre production Suvvadu, which has a social message.
In yet another
excerpt, this time from her latest production Utpala, 2 dancers Vasanth
and Bharath portrayed Lord Padmanabha. Anita urged the younger generation
of dancers to attend theatre plays since they had elements of narrative,
drama and choreography.
excerpted from a report by Lalitha Venkat
presentation was neat and impressive. She urged the up and coming dancers
of today to watch contemporary theatre which is vibrant and alive and which
can be a great source of inspiration for fresh ideas and innovation.
SUBRAMANIAN, CityExpress, Chennai, Monday, December 29, 2003
spoke of getting away from the solo prima donna complex in dance and the
mood to celebrate different bodily techniques working in simultaneity and
in relation to one another, while giving scope for individuality and improvisation
too... Works like "Daughters of the Ocean" and "Suvvadu", with dances from
different styles, showed how cultural and artistic specificities no longer
VENKATRAMAN, The Hindu, New Delhi, January 2, 2004
backdrop of striking collages by Chennai-based artist V V Ramani, Anita
was invited to do a folk story narration for young kids and adults at Lalit
Kala Akademi on November 22, 2003. An interview in www.narthaki.com
on this event, highlights more details.
CEREMONY OF RAJIV GANDHI NINAIVAKAM - ADT & STUDENTS JOIN HANDS
Anita and ADT
were privileged to choreograph young students at the formal ceremony for
the inauguration of the RAJIV GANDHI NINAIVAKAM at Sriperumbudur on October
10, 2003. It involved school students from Padma Seshadri, Sishya, students
from city colleges, as well as sloka students from the city's Vedapadasalai,
members from Koothu-p-pattarai and south Indian nadaswaram and conch artistes.
"It was a challenge
that sprung up unexpectedly. When Romi Chopra, a consultant who handles
major outdoor events first broached the subject, it was supposed to be
a very quiet and small affair. But then it became much larger with the
President of India accepting the invitation to open the memorial," acknowledged
Anita, while speaking about the project. "I was honoured to choreograph
the details for the ceremony but it was a real nightmare of logistics with
security detailing being the biggest one! We had only 5 days to rehearse
and I must say the students cooperated so well with the daily travel to
Sriperumbudur and the blistering heat to beat! We enjoyed it completely
and I'm sure it will remain a striking memory in the whole team's minds... "
Gandhi, Ms Priyanka and Mr Rahul Gandhi were especially touched
and made it a point to meet the entire team and thank them individually,
followed by exclusive photo shoots with the group!
the rare opportunity their school students received, Padma Seshadri writes:
of the Rajiv Gandhi memorial is indeed a lofty act and that our students
had a constructive role to play in it fills us with immense pleasure and
pride. We thank you for selecting our school for this noble cause... Our students
consider themselves lucky to have worked with you for it has blessed them
with a good exposure, in addition to their appearance on international
media. We will treasure this life-time occasion and we look forward to
working with you on such memorable projects in the future too.
VALLI ARUNACHALAM, Vice Principal, Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Senior Secondary
School, TP Road, Chennai
- BUILDING WORKSHOP FOR WOMEN LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS
Ms Kausalya, Positive Women Network, Chennai, on August 6, 2003, at Chennai,
Anita Ratnam delivered a special motivational
address on the role of the general community towards women living with
HIV positive women from Tamilnadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, Anita exhorted
them to break the cycle of self pity, depression and self flagellation
and instead, move constructively forward. A moot point in her talk was
economic empowerment by learning new skills like car driving, setting up
a taxi service with interest-free loans offered by the government of Tamilnadu
and earning an independent livelihood. She even offered to hire their car
service on a regular basis, once established!
In August 2003,
an extensive lecture-demonstration of Arangham
Dance Theatre's repertoire and the choreographic impulses that shaped
their work was presented to members of Samskriti and an invited audience
at Asan Memorial School auditorium, Chennai. Segments from productions
like Gajaanana, Daughters
of the Ocean, Naachiyar
and Utpala were presented
by members of Arangham Dance Theatre,
with explanations by Anita Ratnam.
"SAMUDRA", August 2003: Anita's dance though contemporary in theme and
content, has its strong foundation in tradition. The presentation was based
on excerpts from her productions over the past ten years... Her first sentence
said it all "This is to help you know why and how we do, what we do"...Anita
made the audience put on their thinking caps by describing all the brainwork
which went into each work... the audience got so absorbed in Anita's presentation
that they lost cognizance of time and space. In fact, the audience was
breathing in the dancer and in the same way the dancer was breathing in
the audience... such a thoughtful programme!
from the audience: Thanks for that wonderful dance-dem evening at Asan
Memorial, with Samskriti. I liked UTPALA really much.
KUMAR, Director, Masquerade
CAMP AT DEFENCE COLONY
members of the Defence Colony Club, Chennai, and supported in part by THE
HINDU newspaper, Anita Ratnam and members
of Arangham Dance Theatre conducted a five
day Creativity & Movement summer workshop in April 2002 for young kids
in the age group of 4 - 13yrs. While the smallest members enjoyed the freedom
to just BE, the older group revealed a keen sense of self and balance with
surroundings! Creative role playing and theatrical improvisations also
found an enthusiastic response.
On the occasion
of International Women's Day on March 8, 2002, Anita
Ratnam was a busy invitee to several functions. The most memorable
was an invitation from Dr Aishwarya, World Vision, New Hope Area Development,
Chennai, to conduct a workshop for over 200 self-empowered women from low
income groups, some of who had been sex workers or were AIDS-afflicted
too. The idea was to break barriers and give them a sense of fraternity
in a fun-filled and relaxed atmosphere. The workshop began on a shy and
tentative note as the participants had never experienced some thing like
this before. Anita's informal coaxing and native Tamil aphorisms soon had
a bunch of enthusiastic women re-discovering that MOVEMENT is therapy for
the body, heart and soul!
2001, Anita Ratnam was invited to offer a talk on body language and conservation
of arts and culture for young members of Arkin Systems, Chennai. The motivational
talk went a long way towards inspiring awareness and respect for India's
heritage. In the words of Vijayalakshmi Swaminathan, Senior HR Manager,
Arkin, "The session was an eye opener to many people. Lots of minds started
ticking on how to prevent themselves from feeling jaded and isolated.
Every one went back to their desk feeling rejuvenated enough... to attempt
an inner change. Thank you for the wonderful session. We look forward to
having you as a resource person for our campus induction programs."
& RESOURCE CENTRE
from Goodbooks Bookstore and Resource Centre, Chennai, Anita Ratnam and
members of Arangham Dance Theatre conducted a movement workshop for children
called "RHYTHM AND MOVEMENTS" between June 16 - 24, 2001. Meant for children
in the age group of 8 and 12, the sessions saw enthusiastic, young students
learning to be "noodle boiling in water" or melting like a big block of
workshop allowed the kids to develop their basic skills in observation,
concentration and team work besides appreciating rhythm, balance and flexibility.
Spread over three weeks, the workshop covered a range of movement, improvisation,
imagination and dance kinetics, as well as introduced children to physical
is a reading resource center for young children
the encounter at Goodbooks Bookstore and Resource Centre with Anita Ratnam,
here are a few reactions:
the "Trust" Exercises and the "Waking Up" Exercises because they are like
games. I enjoyed the music and the dance because its fun!
Montessori School, Chennai
the best time I spent in my life - so joyful! Even though it was tiring
it was splendid. Together we learnt so many things. Instead of sitting
idly at home, we learnt many useful things like body movements, balance,
trust, rhythm and music, obsevation and concentration, strengthening the
body... It was so good, we did not feel like coming out of the room!
Seshadri Bala Bhavan Sr. Sec School, Chennai
everything. Especially the dance. The steps were nice and it was fun! The
first time I came I did not know that they would teach us all these wonderful
things. I'd really like to thank Anita Aunty and everyone for teaching
us so many things.
Vidya Mandir, Chennai
jumping and rolling and crawling. I did not like "Ice Melting"!
G TILAK DESIGH,
Vidyalaya Matriculation Hr Sec School, Chennai
the "Trust" Exercise and the dance. I liked mostly everything! Thank you.
Senior Sec, School, Chennai
I liked the most was the "Trust" Exercise and, the "Melting Ice"
and the "space" from all these three. I liked my teacher, ANITA AUNTY!
all "Tha Tha Thai" Kathakali class but more of training to the body to
be open to dance. We did many exercises - I liked "Trust" and "Blind
men" best.... I was never good at dance (I hated it!) but now this
has really taught me the true nature of dance. It was really fun and I
Hr Sec School, Chennai
enjoyed the workshop. I learnt how to be a block of ice and
pretending how ice melts, how spaghetti boils in water... We got new friends
and learnt how to be free and light. I got a great opportunity to
participate in this workshop.
Seshadri Bala Bhavan Sr. Sec School, Chennai
It was very
exciting. I liked the way our creativity was allowed to come out... Being
a participant for the second time only wants me to come back for more!
I look forward to the sessions.
yrs, Std: 7,
Seshadri Bala Bhavan Sr. Sec School, Chennai
dance workshop I attended! I am sad I missed one day of the four precious
days!!! Thank you Anita Aunty, Sangeetha & Madhu!
For more details on workshops done for Chennai schools check Programmes Conducted