Sutradhar Institute of 
Dance & Related Arts 

1. Bud to Blossom – a Kuchipudi dance guide for young dancers with an audio CD.

2. SIDRA Lending Library on dance and world mythology under the guidance of Dr. Cathy Kerst (Folklorist of the Library of Congress).

3. Sutradhar Video Archive – Rich archival material that will soon be made available online.

Sita Gentle Warrior 

This is a historic collaboration of international Asian artists, who have come together to articulate the voices of women silenced by tradition. A moving interpretation of the South Asian epic “the Ramayana,” this work weaves dance, acting, and martial arts.

In the epic Ramayana, Sita is a woman character who is at once little understood and widely adored. The epic tale, over 2000 years old, spread from India to Southeast Asia becoming a part of their literary traditions and performing arts.

Sita undergoes the agonies of war and exile, yet is traditionally depicted as a docile princess, obedient daughter, and ideal wife.  This monochromatic cultural depiction however, misses the fact that a woman who survived such adversity must be very strong.  It also misses interpreting the textual references to Sita’s divine ancestry as daughter of earth.  

Correctly perceived, Sita is a powerful, divine woman, who withstood fourteen years of forest exile and sexual harassment by the demon king Ravana. Once billed as a submissive character, Sita is being reclaimed by women scholars, farming villagers, and artists, both in India and here in the United States.

This question and others are explored in our project through classical dance, masks, martial arts, poetry and an original music score. The focus is artistic; to awaken an audience through an unforgettable experience.  The final work is staged on November 21st and 22nd at one of Washington D.C.’s fine avante garde theaters — Dance Place.

The dancers and musicians involved in the project, are largely from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand and Indonesia.  They leapt into debate over how the script should read; asking tough questions.  Teenage students got involved in discussing Sita and are a part of the documentary being made.  Dance choreographers are joined by a folklorist, an anthropologist, a film documentarian, and an ethnomusicologist.

The project Sita: Gentle Warrior, identifies a global audience as it emerges and allows Sita, as it were, to take back her voice.  Through all the avenues of art, Sita ends up conveying a compassionate humanity that is beyond gender, culture and time.
If you would like to donate funds directly to the Sita Gentle Warrior project please do so by clicking the paypal donate button. All donations are tax deductible. You may also mail a check payable to Sutradhar Institute "Sita Project" to Sutradhar Institute at 1525 Forest Glen Road Silver Spring Maryland 20910.
Sita Gentle Warrior
The Dairy of Sita  
An earlier work on Sita by Anila Ashby. Click the picture to read this article.