BOXED and its inspirations for the future (Part 1)

BOXED and its inspirations for the future (Part 1)

Dr Anita Ratnam


We discuss (with clips) a new online initiative entitled, BOXED, created and produced by Dr. Anita Ratnam, performing artist based in Chennai, India, during the 2020 lockdown. BOXED provided creative opportunities during Covid to dancers trained in Indian styles (traditional and beyond). Dancers applied to BOXED by contributing 2-minute choreography followed by a 1-minute commentary on their experience during lockdown–restlessness, waiting, mental stress and new illuminations on creating dance-for-camera, initially in confined spaces-indoor (kitchen-counters, balconies, basements), and as pandemic protocols shifted, also outdoors (porches, backyards)—along with their choices of music, silence, props, and movement style/s.

Dr. Ratnam, described as an artpreneur, the catalyst in initiating and realizing BOXED, was assisted by London-based, Series Consultant Chitra Sundaram, a dance-theatre performer, researcher/teacher. Dr. Ratnam invited different dancers/ scholars to deliver a 4-minute commentary on each of the 8 segments, May 16 to July 3, 2020. Innovative choreography flowed from dancers across India, from Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, U.K., California, Australia, and South Africa. Each dancer was mentored, with camera angles, and sites discussed. Dancers experienced a psychological fillip during pandemic isolation.

BOXED has become a template of how an existing crisis can inspire original dance art. A year later, although there are several creative dance films, BOXED stands apart for breaking the paralysis that gripped the dance world during the 2020 lockdowns. 

Biography: Dr Anita Ratnam

Dr. Anita Ratnam, a passionate modernist based in Chennai, India, weaves traditional and modern within her eclectic view of life and art. With over four decades of experience in sharing her dance and theatre skills worldwide, her repertoire includes forms of classical southern Indian dance, to honour divine aspects of femininity acclaimed as an “ode to feminine energy.” Her choreography uses Vedic hymns, drumming, and spoken voice in choreographed works entitled 7 Graces, A Million Sitas, among others. Additionally, Dr. Ratman is a fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a voting member of the Dance Critics Association, USA.