Artistic director Ananya Chatterjea, lauded by Ms. Magazine as one of the “choreographers who are pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a woman and a dancer,” founded ADT in 1996 after witnessing political theater as a form of consciousness-raising in communities of color. Using the Indian classical-dance form Odissi as her choreographic starting point, Chatterjea innovated a style that articulates social critique while advancing artistic excellence. Her original choreographic model for practice and performance transforms the company’s factual research, storytelling and creative activities into metaphor and movement with the power to changes viewers’ lives. Of the 25 works currently in ADT’s repertory, three comprise the recently completed trilogy on environmental justice. In 2010, ADT premiered “Kshoy!/Decay,” the first of a new four-part investigation into violence, trauma, resistance and empowerment experienced by communities of color, using the elements of mud, gold, oil and water as metaphor. The series continues in 2011 with “Tushaanal: Fires of Dry Grass,” in 2012 with “Moreechika: Season of Mirage,” and concludes in 2013 with “Mohona: Estuaries of Desire.”
Ananya Dance Theatre’s trademark emotional intensity, physical prowess and resonant storytelling are derived from the company’s unique choreographic aesthetic. Chatterjea’s technique and style are rooted in the Indian dance form Odissi. Chatterjea seamlessly integrates the sculptural sensuality, powerful footwork, and emotional articulation of Odissi with yoga’s pure lines and breath release, and with a bodily awareness of energy in such Indian martial-arts traditions such as Chhau. From this aesthetic, first articulated by the women of color who were founding members of the company, Chatterjea introduced an exploration feminine energy that celebrated a feminist aesthetic. As the company draws from commitment, passion and history of women’s movements around the world to dance the stories of women’s everyday lives, ADT’s movement aesthetic infuses the dancers’ storytelling with a powerful femininity and artistic excellence that inspires social justice.