The leading ladies of Chitrangada!

Updated: Sep 2, 2019

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In Rabindranath Tagore's Chitrangada, Princess Chitrangada is raised as a man, as a warrior. Over the course of our story, the events in her life take her through extreme bouts of self-doubt and introspection causing her to question her identity. During this time, she "transforms" into a version that is the polar opposite of her "self".The two awesome artists playing the two Chitrangadas are Tanvee Kale and Anwesha Das!Anwesha is a professional Bharatanatyam dancer with over 21 years of experience. She has performed at prestigious dance festivals such as the Khajuraho Dance Festival and the Taj Mahal Mahotsav. In previous collaborations with Pratidhwani, she has portrayed iconic female characters such as Draupadi (Kingdom of Cards, 2012) and Sita (Ramayana From Her Perspective, 2012). Primarily a solo Bharatanatyam dancer, we are excited to have Anwesha portray Surupa, the alter-ego of Chitrangada who embodies beauty and charm.Tanvee is a software engineer by day, but her evenings - and most of her life - are dedicated to her passion of dance and theater! She has been a mainstay of Pratidhwani since 2009. She led the dance wing for a few years, directed two major dance musicals, and has performed in many dance and drama productions for Pratidhwani. She most notably was one of the leads in the well-received Dance Like a Man (2015) - a previous collaboration between Pratidhwani and ACTLab. Interestingly, Tanvee played the role of Surupa in our 2010 production of Chitrangada and now switches it up by playing Kurupa, the version of Chitrangada that has been brought up as a man, a warrior.We asked them a few questions about their experience!

“... the story and character is relevant today even after 125 years!” - Anwesha “ ... ensuring that each and every audience member feels included - has been super fun, albeit quite challenging” - Tanvee

So, how has the experience been so far!Tanvee: It's been an immensely challenging yet fun experience - challenging because of the effort involved in trying to bring out the essence of the character I am essaying and fun, because it's always fun to dance and be part of a creative process! Was there anything in particular about the roles that made you want to be part of the production?Anwesha: Chitrangada is a beautiful story of a woman who epitomizes feminine power. The character takes pride in her identity as a warrior princess and in her womanhood, as a lover. Her quest for love has both feminine and feminist overtones, which was a revolutionary portrayal of a woman by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in the 19th century. I believe the story and character is relevant today even after 125 years! When Pratidhwani and ACT decided to showcase Chitrangada, I was eager to be a part of the production - which is a first of its kind in the US!Tanvee: In the 2010 production of Chitrangada, I played the character of Surupa - the version of Chitrangada that is "beautiful", in conventional terms. Naturally, having gone through the process once and having seen the character of "Kurupa" evolve, I was attracted to the idea of playing Kurupa. I wanted to see what I could bring to the character, and how I would portray her given the opportunity!What has been the most challenging aspect of your role? And what have you enjoyed the most?Tanvee: The most challenging aspect of the show has been controlling the degree of femininity of Kurupa - she cannot be too feminine. Also once Kurupa falls in love, exploring how she feels about her femininity and working on how to portray those different, yet natural emotions that a woman feels through the dances is something I have had to work on. I am a tomboy in real life, and therefore one would think playing a "masculine" female character would come naturally to me, however, strangely enough it has still been extremely challenging to channel the inner "man" in me. Anwesha: Surupa goes through a myriad of emotions as she is trying to find herself. So my role entails a lot of expressive dance, which I love! It has been a wonderful experience to get under the skin of the character to bring out the complexities of Surupa.Tanvee: I will add that it has been a lot of fun choreographing dances for the 360 degree nature of the stage. I have once choreographed on the same stage a few years ago for the ACT gala, but to actually bring a full show to life ensuring that each and every audience member feels included - has been super fun, albeit quite challenging. . If the audience takes away one thing from this show, what would you like that to be?Anwesha: I hope they enjoy how we unfold a beautiful story on the essence of a woman! Tanvee: I would love it if they get a good glimpse into what Indian classical dancing is all about, and hope that it opens doors to more such culturally diverse mainstream theater endeavors!A few words that come to mind when thinking about Chitrangada?We made a wordcloud! -

We really couldn't have asked for a better Kurupa/Surupa duo to portray our beloved Chitrangada. Don’t miss the opportunity to see these super talented artists portray Rabindranath Tagore's Chitrangada - The Warrior Princess!


Show details:

14 shows | April 28 to May 20 | ACT, Seattle

Tickets: acttheatre.org

Show times: Thursday-Friday- Saturday shows start at 7:30pm. Sunday shows start at 2pm.


Seattle Times Preview: A warrior princess who doesn’t take any guff: Meet ‘Chitrangada,’ at ACT

Video Trailer: Pratidhwani Presents Rabindranath Tagore's Chitrangada!

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