Posted September 21, 2007

Dance alumni Charles Anderson and Ananya Chatterjea return to Temple

World-renowned choreographers use art as a tool for social change

For Boyer College of Music and Dance alumni Charles Anderson and Ananya Chatterjea, dance is not just about entertainment. Dance, as Anderson and Chatterjea see it, can be used as a powerful tool for social change.

“Both Anderson and Chatterjea deal with compelling subject matters that challenge their audience to reconsider the world that we live in,” said Nanette Hudson Joyce, technical director of Conwell Dance Theater.

During this year’s Alumni Dance Concert, held Oct. 5 and 6 on Temple University’s Main Campus, Anderson and Chatterjea will showcase dance pieces that deal with race, gender and the ways in which social issues can be addressed through the arts.

Anderson, director of Philadelphia-based dance theater x, will perform a piece titled TAR, which was inspired by the “Bre’r Rabbit” and “Tar Baby” tales of African-American folklore and the ways in which these traditional stories have been retold for white audiences. Through TAR, Anderson seeks to reclaim what was lost in translation and return the stories to their African roots.

Photo by Paul Virtucio
The Alumni Dance Concert, held Oct. 5 and 6, will feature Pipaashaa by Ananya Chatterjea’s Ananya Dance Theatre.

“TAR is not simply to revise the [Disney] story or to tell the rabbit trickster story; instead, the piece wants to call attention to the context of African-American [story] telling,” said Anderson, who earned his master’s in fine arts with honors from Temple University in 2002.

Anderson is a 2007 recipient of the Pew Fellowship for the Arts.

TAR recently was staged at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. The Temple performance will be the second time the piece has been performed in its entirety.

Anderson’s counterpart Ananya Chatterjea is currently based in Minnesota, where she is the director of Ananya Dance Theatre and an associate professor in the Department of Dance at the University of Minneapolis.

Dance THeater X Charles O Anderson
Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

Chatterjea describes her choreographic style as a blending together of elements of street theater, classical dance from India, yogic postures, Indian martial arts traditions and Indian ritual practices.

Her dance piece, “Pipaashaa: extreme thirst,” which was created in collaboration with leaders from the Women’s Environmental Institute, seeks to address issues of environmental racism.

“’Pipaashaa: extreme thirst’ is an artistic response to the steady eradication and contamination of natural resources by aggressive industrialization, from the point of view of some of the most vulnerable populations in society,” she said.

Chatterjea will enlist of the help of Temple student dancers, who will have an opportunity to perform with her during the concert.

What: Alumni Charles Anderson and Ananya Chatterjea will return to Temple to perform in the Alumni Dance Concert

When: Oct. 5 and 6, 8 p.m.

Where: Conwell Dance Theater, fifth floor Conwell Hall, Broad St. and Montgomery Ave.


Tickets: $15 general admission; $13 students and senior citizens; free for students with OWLcard. Tickets are available at the Liacouras Center box office, 1776 N. Broad St. (in person, cash-only sales), online at, or by telephone at 1-800-298-4200.