Anita Ratnam: Bringing Neo Bharatam to Australia

Dr Anita Ratnam, based in Chennai (Madras), India, is highly respected as a performer, writer, speaker, arts entrepreneur and culture mentor. She has been described as an ‘intersectionist’, whose work weaves the many disciplines of dance, theatre, spoken word, ritual, archaeology, dramaturgy and women's issues. For over 40 years, her distinguished career has witnessed over 1000 performances in 27 countries. In 2018, she was awarded the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for contemporary dance by the President of India.

This is Ratnam’s first performance tour of Australia and will include the following events.

Solo Performance of Ma3Ka and Artist Talk at Chunky Move for Mapping Melbourne 2018

Saturday, 1st Dec
6 pm to 8 pm
Chunky Move
111 Sturt Street, Southbank, VIC 3006
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She is energy, exuberant in play. The joy of experience passed on generously from within.

She is a confluence, a woman, owning her powers.

She is Ma3Ka.


Earth Mother, three times and more…

Using Vedic hymns, singing, silence, drumming, contemporary mythology and a distinctive movement vocabulary, Ma3Ka is the performative expression of the Holy trinity of Hindu goddesses: Saraswati, Knowledge Mother; Lakshmi, Prosperity Mother; and Meenakshi, Warrior Mother refracted through the prism of personal narratives.

The performance will be followed by an artist talk and moderated panel with Ratnam, in conversation with Dr William Peterson (Senior Lecturer, Flinders University), Dr Priya Srinivasan (Performing Artist | Associate Professor, Deakin University) and Dr Nithya Nagarajan (Performing Artist | Manager – Community and Participation, NIDA).

Movement Lab at NIDA Melbourne

Tuesday, 27th Nov; Wednesday, 28th Nov and Thursday, 29th Nov
10  am to 4 pm
NIDA Melbourne
Suite 4 | 152 Sturt Street, Southbank, VIC 3006
This is a private event.

Over 3 full-day sessions, Ratnam will introduce the many strands of her dance and theatre vocabulary as an integrated practice to the movement lab participants.

Stances drawn from the South Indian classical disciplines of Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam and Kathakali will be interwoven with folk and ritual movement traditions of which Ratnam has been a long–term practitioner and observer. These multiple disciplines of kinetics and a deep practice of Hatha yoga to cure her once chronic asthma has given Ratnam a singular movement vocabulary that she has named Neo Bharatam.

The sessions will explore word-associations and contemporary writing as catalysts for movement, the possibility of stillness and silence as choreographic choices, the absence and abundance of facial expression as a canvas and partner work as a double silhouette.

Using her international travels in performing, writing, speaking and presenting, Ratnam will bring an embodied approach to this special session during which the dancers/choreographers will be encouraged to develop their own “voice” through physical stances, pedestrian movements and stylised gestures.

Through the 3 days, participants will be using music, percussion and singing as a backdrop for movement creation. Since parallel mythology and re-imaging women characters is Ratnam’s forte, the participants can bring their own stories and inspirational women as grist for their choreographic mill.

Dance Katha Workshop at Arts Centre Melbourne

Sunday, 25th Nov
2 pm to 4 pm
Arts Centre Melbourne, The Channel
St. Kilda Road Terrace, Southbank, VIC 3006
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This session is open to children and young people between 8 and 13 years of age and engages the participants in kinetic, oral and image building units.

Ratnam brings her extensive vocabulary of Indian classical, folk and meditative movement arts to the workshop along with her oral storytelling techniques. Using folk tales from various cultures, Ratnam uses the South Indian dance tradition of hand gestures (hastas) to develop images of nature, animals and birds and a wide array of everyday objects. The participants are taught how basic emotions can be revealed through facial expressions as well as body stances. Mnemonic syllables are explored as a way to animate the storytelling process.

The 2 hour session illuminates the multiple possibilities for telling and sharing oral and embodied narratives.

With special thanks to Jerry Remkes and Vanessa Pigrum.

Proudly presented in partnership with Multicultural Arts Victoria, Chunky Move, Arts Centre Melbourne and St. Martins Youth Arts Centre.