Dr. Anita Ratnam’s Arangham Dance Theatre presented “Naachiyar Next”

Dr. Anita Ratnam’s Arangham Dance Theatre presented “Naachiyar Next” – A Retelling of Andal’s Legacy Tale of India’s Earliest Feminist

Dr Anita ratnam

Arangham Dance Theatre, led by renowned choreographer and performer Dr. Anita Ratnam, presented “Naachiyar Next,” a captivating dance theatre production exploring the life and legacy of Andal, the revered 7th century CE poet-saint of Tamil Nadu. This powerful performance was held at the Chinmaya Mission Hall on March 31st, 2024.

Hailed as a dance visionary, Dr. Anita Ratnam has explored unique and unexplored subjects that recast women and myth through her feminist lens. Her craft extends beyond performance to outreach initiatives to share the wonderful nuances of Indian arts to today’s youth. Ratnam described “Naachiyar Next”, that had stirred audiences each time, and is a “trans-creation,” a fresh interpretation of Andal’s story. This innovative presentation showcased rarely explored aspects of Andal’s life and integrates elements like the traditional Kurathi (gypsy) soothsayer ritual from the Srivilliputhur temple. The 70-minute performance featured a talented ensemble of eight dancers, two actors, and four musicians, creating a visually stunning and emotionally charged experience braiding dance, theatrical staging, ritual chanting, storytelling and contemporary movement improvisations.

On the occasion of this unique performance, Dr. Ratnam said, “Re-telling is like a translation. Rather a trans-creation. A remarkable life, saturated with emotion, passion and poetry – lived over 1000 years ago- where the landscape of devotion and personal worship were forbidden for women- is a challenge. Even more so, when her words have already been seen, heard, experienced through generations of artists and philosophers. ANDAL aka GODA, is a phenomenon, whose allure and appeal do not dim through the vagaries of time. As among the very early feminist voices whose searing love and devotion to her Ranganatha/Krishna made the heavens tremor and the Lord Himself surrender to her will, ANDAL remains an enigma and a beloved icon of the Tamil imagination.”

Extensively worshipped in South India and the only mystic poet to have her own temple with a living tradition, this rare depiction of Goddess Andal invited audiences to journey with and to immerse themselves in this teenaager’s remarkable poetry. Naachiyar Next” promised an unforgettable evening of artistic excellence and cultural exploration.