MONER MANUSH: A Conversation with Ananya Chatterjea & Thomas F. DeFrantz

Event Type
Event Description

Join us for the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama 2023 Distinguished Lecture, in a conversation that spans Contemporary Dance, the politics of Innovation, Futurities in dance, and Lineages.


Tuesday, April 11, 2023, 5:30-7 PM

Abbott Hall - Black Arts Consortium

710 N Lake Shore Drive, 18th Floor, Chicago


This event is co-sponsored by SLIPPAGE, the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama, and the Black Arts Consortium at Northwestern University.

Ananya Chatterjea/ অনন্যা চট্টোপাধ্যায় is the Founder, Artistic Director, Choreographer, Dancer of Ananya Dance Theatre since 2004 and leader, Shawngram Institute for Performance & Social Justice since 2018. Her work as choreographer, dancer, and thinker brings together Contemporary Dance, social justice choreography, and a commitment to healing justice. She is the creator of Yorchhā, ADT’s signature movement vocabulary, and is the primary architect of Shawngrām, the company’s justice- and community-oriented choreographic meth-odology. She is a 2011 Guggenheim Choreography Fellow, a 2012 and 2021 McKnight Choreography Fellow, a 2016 Joyce Award recipient, a 2018 UBW Choreographic Center Fellow, a 2019 Dance/USA Artist Fellow, and recipient of the 2021 A. P. Andersen Award. Her work has toured to international venues such as the Bethlehem International Performing Arts Festival, Palestine (2018), Crossing Boundaries Festival, Ethiopia, (2015), Harare International Dance Festival, Zimbabwe (2013), New Waves Institute of Dance and Performance, Trinidad (2012), and Aavejak Avaaz Festival, India (2018), and to prestigious domes-tic venues such as Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Pittsburgh; John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboy-gan; Dance Place, Washington; Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Maui; The Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles; Painted Bride Theater, Philadelphia; among others. Ananya is Professor of Dance at the University of Minnesota where she teaches courses in Dance Studies and contemporary practice. Her second book, Heat and Alterity in Contemporary Dance: South-South Choreo-graphies, re-framing understandings of Contemporary Dance from the perspective of dance-makers from global south locations (Palgrave McMillan, 2020) was awarded the 2022 Brockett Book Prize by Dance Studies Association. Her most recent publication is an anthology, Dancing Transnational Feminisms: Ananya Dance Theatre and the Art of Social Justice (Univ. of Washington Press, 2022), co-edited with Hui Wilcox and Alessandra Williams. Ananya is grateful to all the artists and collaborators she works with for their light and practice of excellence, and is thankful to her family for their support.

Thomas F. DeFrantz directs the SLIPPAGE laboratory, a research group that explores emerging technology in live performance applications. Before joining Northwestern, he was on faculty at MIT and Duke University, with side jaunts teaching at Yale, Stanford, Hampshire College, and NYU. Thomas believes in our shared capacity to do better and engage creative spirit for a collective good that is anti-racist, proto-feminist, and queer affirming.

The lab works on live-processing interfaces that can help us with theatrical renderings of alternative histories, and telling stories that might be less well known than others. They create performances that tour the US and beyond, including some favorites: Queer Theory! An Academic Travesty commissioned by the Theater Offensive of Boston and the Flynn Center for the Arts; fastDANCEpast, created for the Detroit Institute for the Arts; and reVERSE-gesture-reVIEW commissioned by the Nasher Museum in response to the work of Kara Walker, January, 2017.

Thomas also writes books about dance and theater, including the Routledge Companion to African American Theater and Performance (with Kathy Perkins, Sandra Richards, and Renee Alexander Craft, 2018), Choreography and Corporeality: Relay in Motion (with Philipa Rothfield, 2016), Black Performance Theory: An Anthology of Critical Readings (with Anita Gonzalez, 2014), Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance (2002), and Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey's Embodiment of African American Culture (2004).

Additionally he acted as a consultant for the Smithsonian Museum of African American Life and Culture, contributing concept and a voice-over for a permanent installation on Black Social Dance that opened with the museum in 2016.

Running Time
1 hour, 30 minutes
Dance Styles
Modern / Contemporary
Traditional/Indigenous Dance