Anita Ratnam

Anita Ratnam, born 21 May 1954, is an accomplished Indian classical and contemporary dancer and choreographer, whose career spans four decades. A television personality, arts presenter, transcultural collaborator, writer and cultural activist, Anita has been trained in Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Mohini Attam, T'ai chi and Kalarippayattu. Using the movement vocabulary of various art forms she has created a dance style which she calls Neo Bharatam.

Training with guru Adyar K. Lakshman, Anita later completed a post graduate diploma in Bharatanatyam at Kalakshetra, Chennai. With an M.A. in Theatre and Television from the University of New Orleans, and a Ph.D in Women’s Studies from Mother Teresa University, Anita has been engaged with the imaging of Indian and Asian women in the prism of performance, and spent ten years as a Television Producer/commentator in the United States with productions including a weekly series on art, travel and culture in India. She is the founder - director of Arangham Trust, set up in 1992 in Chennai, and Arangham Dance Theatre, a performance company (1993).

 In 2000 she created, an Indian dance portal. Anita Ratnam is also an arts entrepreneur, having co-founded The Other Festival (1998 to 2007), an international festival for contemporary dance and theatre. Anita successfully convened the Natya Kala Conference and the Natya Darshan confests in Chennai. She has played a major role in reviving the ritualistic performance of Kaisiki Natakm at the Tirukurungudi temple in Tamil Nadu.

 Anita Ratnam’s many solo and group choreography works have been of a collaborative nature, with theatre directors (Dipankar Mukherjee, Pangea World Theatre, Minneapolis), Richard Armstrong (New York University), visual artists (photographer Cylla Von Tiedemann, Toronto, and Asma Menon, painter, Chennai), costume and visual designers Rex (Toronto) and Sandhya Raman (New Delhi), writers Joy Harjo (Albuquerque) and Shobhita Punja (New Delhi), and choreographers Hari Krishnan (Indance, Toronto) and Mark Taylor (Dance Alloy, Pittsburgh).

 Anita Ratnam also visits academic environments like Wesleyan University, Mount Holyoke College, University of California, Irvine, and Riverside, Middlebury College and Rice University, Texas, where she interacts with students of religion, mythology, dance and theatre. Over the years, she has received numerous awards and recognition for her work in the performing arts in India.


 Mahatma Gandhi Award for Cultural Harmony (1986) U.S.A. Media Achievement award (1991) by National Organisation of Women in New York Nritya Choodamani (1996) by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai 

Kalaimamani  (1998) by the Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nataka Manram, Tamil Nadu

Lalithakalaratna (2003) by Sri Lalithakala Academy Foundation Trust (Inc.), Mysore and Natya Ratna (2003) by Sri Shanmukhananda Sangeeta Sabha, New Delhi