• Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University
  • Abstract Title: Horidraa: Golden Healing: Black Lives Matter Movements in the Indian Dance Practice of Ananya Dance Theatre

BIo: Alessandra Williams is an assistant professor of dance at Rutgers University-New Brunswick who performs with the Ananya Dance Theatre company. She researches dance, Asian and African American culture, gender, and queer theory. She has been awarded fellowships such as the Inclusive Excellence Fellowship (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 2018-2019), Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship (University of California, Los Angeles 2010–14), and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (Macalester College 2005–07). Her publications include the forthcoming anthology Dancing Transnational Feminisms: Ananya Dance Theatre and the Art of Social Justice with her co-editors Ananya Chatterjea and Hui Niu Wilcox. And Williams’ book project on queer theory and race examines the choreography of David Roussève/REALITY dance company.

Abstract: Ananya Dance Theatre’s evening-length dance Horidraa: Golden Healing (2016) highlights the conditions of Black lives in a U.S. context in order to mobilize its social justice objectives toward choreographic action. Ananya Dance Theatre is a company that aims to explore global, intersectional experiences of queer, Black and brown women and femmes. Based in the Twin Cities metropolitan region of Minnesota, the artistic director Ananya Chatterjea created Horidraa: Golden Healing in the wake of two killings of unarmed Black men in Minneapolis, Saint Paul area, Jamar Clark in 2014 and Philando Castile in 2016. I argue that Chatterjea’s compositional strategies for the Ananya Dance Theatre company in solo and ensemble movement are the efforts that propel it toward emphasizing Black Lives. Moreover, as the choreography of Horidraa broadens how the intersection of gender and race might be understood through its placement of Black bodies in its Indian dance technique known as “Yorchhā,” it has the potential to make critical space for dance practice in highlighting calls for making “All Black Lives Matter.”

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