For a better world

For a better world

For a better world

Dr Anita Ratnam is committed to break the shackles of the unholy marriage of dance to patrons and liberate dancers, finds out Vimla Patil.

It would be no exaggeration to say that Dr Anita Ratnam was born with ghungroos tied around her ankles.

She has given Indian dance pride of place not only in South Asian countries, but also in the greatest dance institutions of the U.S.

She has danced in every major city of the world and shown how Indian dance can be the fountain from which several elements of dance the world over can be combined.
Anita recently curated ‘The Other Festival', India’s first annual contemporary dance festival.

Talking about the festival, she says, “The dancer needed to be liberated from two constricts. One is the inability to choose with whole-hearted consent the hard life of a dancer.

Long hours away from family and friends, and failing to deliver on their mundane expectations, spending hours in workout clothes, feeling exhaustion at the end of the day and bitter rejection from audiences and critics from time to time.

The other constrict is the unholy marriage of dance to patrons. Dance is yet to be liberated from patrons, unlike, let’s say, writing or music that has a corporate structure that delivers it directly to customers.

Dance depends entirely on funding and it is really difficult for dancers to bring a production to their audiences in this country.

Government patronage is riddled with problems including nepotism and cliques; private funding is almost non-existent and the lucky few who get it have to prove themselves every year to continue to receive it.”

She set up Arangham Trust in 1992 in Chennai, followed by Arangham Dance Theatre, a performance company in the early nineties. She also founded, a portal for Indian dance.

“I have spent two decades in the company of dancers and have always been moved by this dependence. I’ve seen several dancers lose their mental balance and turn vicious and bitter as well. Also, I’ve seen 90 percent of the dancers I know quit and join other jobs,” says Anita, who is committed to making the lives of other dancers better.

The solution Anita is currently working on is an experiment under her aegis, a production called Padme.