Anita Menon | Breakout Session
Anita Menon joins Sarah Jane Hardy for a breakout session entitled, "Developing New Audiences Through Cross Cultural Relationships". The Regional Arts and Culture Council points out in their Equity Statement that "tackling the issue of equity and inclusion requires commitment, respect, patience, determination and flexibility." This breakout session traces the growth and development of a cross-cultural collaboration by two female artists, Anita Menon, a classical Indian dancer, and Sarah Jane Hardy, Artistic Director of Northwest Children's Theatre in Portland, Oregon. In 2015, Northwest Children's Theatre brought to life the story of The Jungle Book through the lens of Indian classical, folk and contemporary dance. The unique production was the result of a two-year collaboration. The show ran for a month and broke box office records for the 22-year-old company, reaching over 13,000 children and families in Portland, Oregon. Anita and Sarah Jane are now planning their next two collaborations with the potential to create real change in the Portland arts community.
Anita Menon is a director and choreographer who is recognized as one of the leading exponents of Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form originating in Southern India. Anita is the recipient of the prestigious Performing Arts Fellowship in 2014 from the Regional Arts and Culture Council (Portland, Oregon), the first Asian-American to receive this honor.
As the Founder and Artistic Director of the Anjali School of Dance, her classical yet inventive approach, creates an exceptional style that is distinct, meaningful and appealing to diverse audiences around the world.
Besides choreographing dances with strong women role models including Jhansi Ki Rani, Meerabhai and Chitrangadha, her passion has been to choreograph Western stories through Indian dance including Red Riding Hood, Pegasus and Wizard of Oz. Anita has directed theatrical productions that are Indian adaptations of Classical Western plays including Shakespeare’s " Midsummer Night’s Dream" as well as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot murder mystery “Death on the Nile” titled "Murder on the Gange". Her productions are known for their big dance numbers using several styles of dance including Indian classical, folk, Ballet, HipHop, Jazz and Bollywood.
Last year she co-directed The Jungle Book at Northwest Children’s Theater MainStage (2014-2015 season) which subsequently received four Portland Area Musical Theater Award nominations. As a dancer, Anita has traveled the world delivering performances in the United States, India, France, United Kingdom, Malaysia and Singapore. Anita also serves on the board of the Northwest Children's Theater as well as the Regional Arts and Culture Council.