Ananya Chatterjea

It's not unusual when artists declare that they are commenting on, or responding to, the cultural forces that shape our lives. It is less common, however, when an artist states that her goal is to create "an active citizenry for dance," one that combines a populist spirit with a firm commitment to technical excellence in a creative form. It is to this end that Ananya Chatterjea leads a company of some 20 Asian, African American, and Latina women, drawn from the population at large. Collectively, they address the big issues of the day—war, racism, domestic violence, genocide—taking up the task as a kind of civic duty, a form of revolution. In the fall of 2006 the troupe performed Duurbar: Journeys into Horizon, a work inspired by the sex workers' union in Calcutta, India. The dancers tackled this subject with fierce commitment, high energy, and quiet grace, performing the rigorous Odissi movement style with unfailing precision. In this and other recent works, Chatterjea has aimed high in order to portray the struggles of people who've been laid low by luck, and she has succeeded. Along the way, she has also uncovered a common desire for humanity, decency, love—truths that are bigger than the geographical and ideological borders that divide us.


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