The Singga penneys take ted
“We were all in tears because we were happy and content. I think as an artist that’s the most important thing, when you’re going to bed, you should be happy about what you did,” says Anjana, member of Anartana.
Anartana is a team of college students, from M.O.P. Vaishnav College, who performed in the dance cover of the song Singappenney, produced and shot by dimensions and was reshared by the YouTube page of Sony Music South. The team performed a classical break in the middle of the song and received a lot of praise for their relaxed and mellow choreography, bookended by the energetic performances of the other teams in the video. It was done by Simran Sivakumar, who had started freelancing as a choreographer during her third year of college. After graduating, Simran got an opportunity to direct a part of the video. This was when she approached Anjana and the rest of the team. She had already met them while organizing a dance for the college team and had a wonderful experience working with them.
She then asked the same team if they would be willing to be part of this. That was how the team Anartana was formed. Today, the team has eleven dancers, Anjana Ramesh, Namrata S, Tejaswini K, Aishwarya Venkatakrishnan, Deeksha R, Simran Sivakumar, Samyuktha Swaminathan, Akshaya Ravi, Sandya Mohan, Anusha Viswanathan and Jayalakshmi Perumal. All the eleven dancers are integral members of the team today.
“Anartana was the name of the dance class conducted by me before i met the team. The word Anartana means going beyond, or rather, dancing endlessly. That’s how I am, and that’s how everyone in our group is. Everything just connects to that name and its really special to us,”
The video was a contribution for women empowerment, and the lyric part they did was about how women can support one another. Simran was approached by The Dancers Club who also sponsored the video in its entirety. On seeing this video, the curation team of TEDx Napier Bridge invited them to perform at their annual conference. Most of the members were from their college, in addition to a few who were from other dance schools.
Since they had gotten their invite on the basis of the Singgappenney video, they assumed that they would be required to perform another classical number. However, the first meeting with the TEDx representatives revealed that they were to do a performance using any style of dance other than classical. So they chose to perform a fusion of classical with western and folk. Despite not having any experience with other styles, they decided to give it a try. The entire piece was choreographed by their friend, Tamil Arasan and they retained the classical parts choreographed by Simran.
As the dance was themed around women empowerment, everything from the selection of the song and lyrics to the steps, formation, and props was done keeping in mind the message to be delivered.
Only one prop was used by them for the performance; bamboo sticks, to represent barriers. The performance symbolized a bird trapped in a cage and her struggle to break free of them. Interlocking their arms, the other dancers too played the role of shackles, trying to shut the girl back into her cage. The classical piece choreographed by Simran is a transformative one with all the other girls also supporting the girl in her bid to escape from her shackles. The aptly chosen lyrics of that section say ‘Your wounds will fade and all your sorrows will come to an end.’
Despite their hectic college life, they were able to balance the former and regular practices. Being a group from different educational streams, it was hard to find a comfortable time. They had all of their practices in the evenings at around 7.30 in the hall at Simran’s house, where she also conducted her dance classes. Despite having gotten multiple complaints about their noise, they endeavoured to achieve their goal. Though they had to skip classes for stage rehearsals, the team were able to schedule their practices in such a way that they didn’t have to miss too many classes. “We are a combination of people who say “Oh no, I can’t bunk college” and “Oh yes, I’ll bunk college”, laughs Simran.
When asked if they were participating in any competitions currently or if they planned to in the future, Simran reminded that all of the other members were college students with commitments of their own.
“To put on a good performance we need a lot of time. We are passionate dancers, but not all of us are full time dancers. If there comes a time when we are able to prepare for one, we would love to,”
Right now, Team Anartana are going with the flow and accepting most events that come their way. “We really want to take this team to another level so that people know who Team Anartana is and what they’re capable of. That’s our main aim,” says Simran.