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Dancing Memories

December 16, 2015

Professor Ananya Chatterjea’s latest work, Roktim: Nurture Incarnadine, was profoundly inspired by the research conducted by both the dancers of the company and Chatterjea herself. Roktim: Nurture Incarnadine, is actually the second piece of a dance quintet created by Chatterjea entitled, “What Women Do.”

Roktim: Nurture Incarnadine created a narrative focused on female labor in the agricultural sector of global societies and how it influences the food system. With a specialized focus on women of color, Chatterjea choreographed a production that not only sought to educate people on the practices of female migrant labor, but more importantly, sought to honor the women who invested their love, labor, and lives into the cultivation of the land for the utilitarian sake of sustaining a community of people.

In order to communicate this monumental social issue through the art of dance, the dancers and Chatterjea took field trips to different farming locations in Minnesota to conduct secondary research through interviews for the dance. The dancers visited Frogtown Farms, Dream of Wild Health, and MN Food Association/Big River Farms in order to connect with the land, the farmers, and build relationships that would ultimately influence the production.

“At one of the farms we got to participate in a little bit of actual fieldwork with them, so some of us planted seeds alongside the farmers, and some of us pulled weeds and tilled soil,” says Kealoha Ferreira, a second year dancer from Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT). “There are parts of the show that have a literal translation of acts such as planting seeds, but the stories shared by the farmers are what really helped us connect the research to the choreography.”

Ananya Dance Theatre performed Roktim: Nurture Incarnadine at the International Crossing Borders Festival & Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The production was so profound in its message that U.S. Congressman (Fifth District) Keith Ellison later remarked, “Ananya Dance Theatre traveled thousands of miles to Addis Ababa to help the U.S. embassy celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations between the US and Ethiopia. I can’t imagine a more fitting representative of my district than ADT, and I’m so proud that their hard work has given them this opportunity to share their craft with people all over the world.”

The visit to Addis Ababa was sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Not only did they perform their inspirational dance piece, the company also had the opportunity conduct and share more research through numerous workshops with organizations such as Addis Ababa Theatre and Culture Hall and the Cultural Arts Center of Addis Ababa University.

Anaya Chatterjea’s work demonstrates how the power of meaningful research knows no borders, and can address important social issues regardless of what discipline the research is in.

This story was written by an undergraduate student account executive in CLAgency. Meet the team.