Ananya Dance Theatre introduces new Managing Director and Operations Manager
The only thing constant is change and there is no exception for the esteemed contemporary dance company and cultural activists, Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT), which has announced several personnel changes.
Gary Peterson, managing director, will retire from day-to-day performing arts management on October 31, 2023. He will be working with his successors – Jennifer (Jennie) Ward as managing director and Hadiya Shire as operations manager – during the transition through October. Both Ward and Shire joined ADT on January 3.
Peterson has been with ADT since 2009. In addition to his work as managing director of Ananya Dance Theatre and research collaborator with Dr. Ananya Chatterjea, he has been a part of Minnesota’s dance community for more than 40 years. He has served as dance student, consultant and as executive director of James Sewell Ballet, Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre, Zenon Dance Company and the Southern Theater.
Artistic Director Ananya Chatterjea said, “One of the most generative and life-giving collaborations of my artistic life has been with Gary Peterson. We walked towards each other from different directions in the dance field, different aesthetic lineages and different strengths. But from our shared questions centering around what is meaningful, excellent and what constitutes just practices in dance, we grew in a solid trust and reliance on each other. Gary’s expansive vision for the company, his guidance to me in moments of difficulty, his exhortations to move forward with courage are hugely responsible for the growth of the company. My gratitude is forever with him.”
Ward is a local theater director/producer and community builder. She brings to ADT more than 25 years of experience working with professional, semi-professional and student artists in all types of venues, and at all scales and budgets. She has a BA from Knox College (Galesburg, IL) and an MFA in Directing from Moscow Art Theatre School/Harvard University Institute for Advanced Theatre Training.
Shire is a writer and arts administrator from Minneapolis. Before joining ADT, Shire worked for Graywolf Press, The University of Minnesota Press, In Black Ink, Springboard for the Arts, and The Loft Literary Center. Her work in nonprofit administration, operations, finance and logistics have supported programming that provides artists with resources to build and sustain artistic communities. She holds a BA in English and Africana Studies from Vassar College.
In other staff news, after eight years as ADT’s production manager, Emma Marlar has left to pursue her own artistic interests. Jessie Storovich assumed Marler’s role as production manager for the 2022 production of Nün Gherāo.
ADT Board Chair Gina Kundan said, “We remain immensely grateful for all that Gary Peterson and Emma Marlar have contributed to the Company’s success. Gary’s arts management expertise chiseled Ananya Dance Theatre into an effective and vibrant organization. His lasting impact has insured a solid foundation that gives our new managing director and operations manager multiple strategies to build upon.
As production manager for eight seasons, Emma delivered consistent high-quality productions at home and on tour. We offer each of them love, gratitude and support as they move on to new adventures. It’s rare that opportunities for transition align so seamlessly. We’re thrilled to be able to bring Jennie, Hadiya and Jessie onto the management team.”
Ananya Dance Theatre has earned a reputation for engaging performances, intellectual and artistic rigor, and an uncompromising commitment to social justice. Its BIPOC women and femme dance artists are cultural activists who believe in the transformative power of dance. In dancing stories where the lives and dreams of women from the global majority occupy the center, they challenge the landscape of mainstream culture, build understanding about arts and social justice, and empower artistic voices.