(Last Updated on : 12/03/2014)
"I am in dance because this is my own way of connecting with myself and the world. I consider myself a contemporary classicist. I call myself a cultural activist because I believe in my culture. My culture doesn't mean just the performing arts. To me it stands for finding out about my roots and knowing who I am. And the classical arts are a very vital part of our culture. I want to make a difference to the cultural life of India, as a performer, thinker and activist. Arangham has come a long way since 1992 but the journey just begins…" Anita Ratnam .
Anita Ratnam is one of the most talented and accomplished classical dancers of the Indian subcontinent. She has been trained as a Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam as well as a Kathakali dancer and is counted amongst the best choreographers of the South. With performances over 1000 and a three-decade career span Anita Ratnam is also handling the responsibility of being a Choreographer, cultural commentator, writer, speaker and television personality. She should be applauding for the role she is playing in the promotion of Indian dance internationally.
Under Adyar K. Lakshmanan Anita had her formal training in dance. Later, she enrolled herself in Rukmini Devi Arundale's 'Kalakshetra' for a Postgraduate diploma in Dance. From the University of New Orleans Anita completed her Master's degree in Theatre and Television. She also worked as a Television Producer in the United States for ten years. Anita was nominated for the Emmy and Ace awards as an appreciation of her work during her reign in United States. Anita also made an initial venture into films and played the role of an antagonist in Rajiv Menon's famous movie, 'Kandukondain Kandukondain'.
Anita wrote 'Natya Brahman', a book for dance students on the comparative drama traditions of India and Greece. She also served as the editor and publisher of 'Narthaki', a directory of Indian dance. Anita in the promotion of performing arts has founded an organization 'Arangham' in Chennai in 1992. "Arangham" is a Tamil word meaning "stage"…"performing space". She is the Founder-Director of her organization. Her production presents Indian traditions in new versions for modern audiences, which reflects a unique ability to combine and experiment the classical and contemporary. She has traveled in India and abroad to perform dance, to demonstrate lectures and theatre seminars. Anita is one of the main persons responsible behind the initiation of 'The Other Festival', held in Chennai every December for promotion of contemporary Indian dance. Some of her creative unique works includes 'A map to the world' (1997) with native American poet Joy Harjo,
' The inner world' (1998) with Pangea World Theatre in Minneapolis, 'Dust' (2001) with Mark Taylor of Dance Alloy in Pittsburgh, USA; ' Vortext (2002)' with Canadian dance artist Peter Chin, 'Daughters of the Ocean' (1999) with writer Shobita Punja have acclaimed.
Anita Ratnam has received several awards and recognition for her work in the performing arts in India and abroad. Some of them being the 'Nritya Choodamani' in 1996 by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai; 'Kalaimamani' in1998 for Dance Research by Govt. of Tamilnadu, 'Media Achievement award' in 1991 by National Organization of women in New York, 'Mahatma Gandhi Award' for cultural harmony US in1986; 'Lalithakalaratna' in 2003 by Sri Lalithakala Academy Foundation Trust, Mysore, 'Natya Ratna' in 2003 by Sri Shanmukhananda Sangeeta Sabha, New Delhi.
This multifaceted personality has made significant contributions through her works in the Indian Culture.