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Ananya Dance Theatre

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Ananya Dance Theatre is a professional company comprised primarily of women artists of color. We are cultural activists, dancing to engage audiences through visual and emotional experiences, build community, and move toward equity and beauty.

We combine the metaphor and poetry of Contemporary Indian Dance with a philosophy of social justice to create original dance theater about the work and dreams of women globally. Our mission is People Powered Dances of Transformation. Our movement technique is Yorchha™, a combination of Classical Odissi, the martial art Chhau, and Vinyasa Yoga.

Our activities are rooted in a commitment to a women-of-color framework that recognizes shared experiences and differences, goals of social justice and equity, and invites communities into artistic work where women of color occupy the center.

We create original dance theater with original sound scores, using dance and artistic processes to stake a claim for the use of art in shaping a future of social justice and beauty. We invite youth and women of color from the community to join our creative process by sharing stories in movement circles and workshops. Their stories illuminate themes for our concert productions.

Our dancers and collaborators represent a range of ethnic, cultural, immigrant, and of color communities who call Minnesota home: South Asian, Chinese, Hmong, African American, Pacific Islander, Palestinian, and mixed race. Describing this constituency as “women of color” is crucial, yet nuanced: queer men of color and trans women of color are part of our family of dancers and apprentices.

We believe that creative processes can organize communities to harness power in the building of a different future. As we respond to issues in our lived contexts and identify artistic themes and creative research methods, we think deeply and responsibly about igniting a movement that locates art-making in a place of power inside people's lives, particularly from the perspective of women of color. Our artists are embedded in their communities and engaged in current issues with the arts field, social justice work, and education.

Ananya Chatterjea, our artistic director and choreographer: Recipient of Guggenheim and McKnight Fellowships in Choreography; Named Best Choreographer by Star Tribune newspaper 2016; Professor of Dance, University of Minnesota; Named Outstanding Dance Educator by MN SAGE Awards for Dance 2015; Doctoral degree in dance, Temple University.

Touring: Scripps College, Claremont, CA; Crossing Boundaries Festival, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, sponsored by U.S. State Department; Links Hall, Chicago; Detroit Lakes, MN; Harare International Arts Festival, Zimbabwe; Trinidad; and Temple University, Philadelphia – 13 U.S. cities and 11 countries overall.

Accolades: In 2014, the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault selected ADT to receive its AWARE Award for awareness-raising work about sexual assault and violence. In 2017, National Performance Network (NPN) members co-commissioned original production: Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, Pittsburgh; Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia; Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului; Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles; and The O’Shaughnessy, St. Paul. Ananya Dance Theatre will perform in each community during 2017-18.

Years in Business


Contact Name

Gary Peterson


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P. O. Box 2427
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402-0427
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How to Best Use Us/Me

Over 12 years, our creative expressions have developed a multi-year thematic focus on women in communities of color and a global context. For example, we created three, full-length dances over three years that examined aspects of environmental justice. This series was followed by a quartet of works investigating the systemic violence against women inherent in the commodification of land, gold, oil, and water.

In 2014, we initiated a five-year theme – “Work Women Do” – about the unacknowledged labor that women perform to sustain communities. The first production, “Neel: Blutopias of Radical Dreaming,” in 2014, concerned itself with the role and labor of women’s dreams. The 2015 production, “Roktim: Nurture Incarnadine,” celebrated women’s work to nurture land and preserve sustainable agricultural practices. In 2016, “Horidraa” looked at the women’s roles as healers. In 2017, “Shyamali” focuses on women speaking up and talking back to birth new worlds. The series concludes in 2018 with “Shaatranga: Rainbow Colors,” about women’s roles in world-making.

Each year of our investigation teaches us more about the tremendous value of women’s work and its under-acknowledged status. Consequently, our dances grow in scale, creating opportunities to enlist remarkable artistic collaborators and community partners while stretching our resources. This requires us to think innovatively to realize the vision through design and choreography.

Our philosophy of #occupydance informs our commitment to creating a “different” experience for our audiences, bringing them into the world of our productions through interactive and shared, participatory experiences. Creating such experiences is risky, however, because dancers must imagine and improvise their responses to the many different ways in which audiences could choose to participate in the moment – while maintaining the thematic focus. The weaving of tightly choreographed sequences with more improvised and interactive sections stretches artists and audiences in new ways.

Fee Structure

Creation and performance of original dance theater: (a) 5-minutes - $7,500; (b) 90-minutes - $125,000



Kathleen Spehar


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Lynn Von Eschen


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706 Second Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN 55402

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