Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ananya Dance Theatre will open the Twin Cities’ fall dance season with four performances of “Moreechika: Season of Mirage” at the Southern Theater, Sept. 6-9.

Sherie Apungu & Ananya Chatterjea • “Moreechika”
National Academy for the Performing Arts
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Photo: Maria Nunes Photography © 2012 http://www.marianunes.com

Choreographed by Ananya Chatterjea to an original score by the composer Greg Schutte of St. Paul, “Moreechika” received its world premiere, July 27, at the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, as part of the New Waves! 2012 Festival.

The theme of the evening-length work is oil and the environmental, cultural, and human costs of its extraction around the world, particularly its impact on women in global communities of color.

Annie Katsura Rollins designed the costumes and giant shadow puppets used in “Moreechika.” Mike Wangen designed the stage lighting. The work runs 85 minutes without intermission.

“Moreechika” is the third in a four-part, multi-year investigation into systemic violence, trauma, resistance, and empowerment. The quartet employs the thematic elements of mud (“Kshoy!/Decay!” 2010), gold (“Tushaanal: Fires of Dry Grass” 2011), oil (“Moreechika: Season of Mirage” 2012), and water (“Mohona: Estuaries of Desire” 2013).

Following the Minneapolis performances, the troupe will present “Moreechika” at The Conwell Dance Theater in Philadelphia, Oct. 5-6, as part of a residency sponsored by The Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University.

Chitra Vairavan & Sherie Apungu • “Moreechika”
National Academy for the Performing Arts
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Photo: Maria Nunes Photography © 2012 http://www.marianunes.com

Chatterjea and her company members drew their creative inspiration  from several sources, including the struggles of Ken Saro-Wiwa, a Nigerian activist.

“Saro-Wiwa,” Chatterjea said, “addressed the injustices done by Shell Oil to the Ogoni people and the destruction of their land and ecosystem, for which he was tried and hanged by a military tribunal.”

The perspectives and struggles of the U’wa community of Colombia also informed the work.

“This community is stunned by the excessive consumption of oil by our world,” Chatterjea said. “They think of oil as ruiria, blood of the earth, which must be respected as part of the natural world.”

Chatterjea also drew inspiration from the responses of the indigenous Kichwa women of Ecuador to Chevron Oil, and from the current struggle in North America against the Keystone XL Pipeline through Native American lands.

Ananya Dance Theatre is a company of women artists of color working at the intersection of social justice and artistic excellence to tell the stories of ordinary lives and extraordinary dreams with an emotional intensity and physical prowess that draws upon the company’s choreographic aesthetic and technique.

“Moreechika: Season of Mirage”
Ananya Dance Theatre
Southern Theater, Minneapolis, Sept. 6-9, 2012
Conwell Dance Theater, Philadelphia, Oct. 5-6, 2012
Photo: vpaulphotos.com © 2012

Chatterjea’s aesthetic integrates the sculptural sensuality, powerful footwork, and emotional articulation of Odissi, a classical Indian dance form, with the pure lines and breath release of yoga and the bodily awareness of energy from the martial art of Chhau.

Chatterjea, a recipient of a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography and a 2012 McKnight Artist Fellowship for choreography, serves as a professor and Director of Dance in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota.

Minneapolis performances of “Moreechika” are scheduled for Thu. and Sun., Sept. 6 and 9, at 7:30pm, and Fri. and Sat., Sept. 7 and 8, at 8pm. The Southern Theater is located in the Seven Corners District of Minneapolis at 1420 Washington Avenue South. General admission tickets are available through TicketWorks at 612.343.3390, or online at ticketworks.com.

Philadelphia performances are scheduled for Fri. and Sat., Oct. 5 and 6, at 7:30pm. The Conwell Dance Theater is located at 1801 North Broad Street. General admission tickets are available by calling 215.204.1122.

More articles about “Moreechika”:

Gary Peterson serves as chair, board of directors, of Ananya Dance Theatre.

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