The Reverend, Colonel Anandha Ray, MA, MA, DTR

Anandha Ray

Anandha_sans_snakes-smAfter a lifetime in the professional world of dance Anandha has developed a thorough and innate understanding of dance and the language of movement.

She is an award-winning choreographer who:

  • was instrumental in the development of dance in the late 20th and early 21st century,
  • directed a critically acclaimed internationally touring dance company,
  • was a Cultural Ambassador with the US Embassy,
  • was the chairperson of university and community dance programs, and,
  • combining the resources of her experience with her masters degrees research topics she has created a revolutionary form for training professional dancers.

With literally a lifetime of experience in dance, she is internationally critically acclaimed for her work in dance, propelling the art of dance to new realms, unlocking the mysteries of the soul.


                                                                      “Through dance that is real,
                                                                           that is authentic,
                                                                                that holds the power of truth and of ritual and  
                                                                                     ceremony in it’s artistic expression,
                                                                                           we grow to know more about the human spirit…

                                                                      There is nothing more SACRED than this.”   

-Anandha Ray

Anandha Ray, MA, MA, DTR,
has dedicated over 40 years to the full-time passion of dance. She is an award-winning choreographer who was instrumental in the development of dance in the late 20th and early 21st century, directed a critically acclaimed internationally touring dance company, was a Cultural Ambassador with the US Embassy, the chairperson of university and community dance programs, and combining the resources of her experience with her masters degrees research topics she has created a revolutionary form for training professional dancers.

Her work with Moving Arts Dance included work as a Cultural Ambassador for the US Embassy on tours called “Dance without Borders,” receiving standing ovations from sold-out premiere international venues, to edgy black box theaters in the deep urban recesses of San Francisco. Ray founded Moving Arts Dance, which toured extensively for 2 decades, receiving standing ovations in eight countries and conducting extensive tours and workshops in over 50 cities in the US, Europe, Canada and Mexico.

After an award-winning 30-year career in professional modern dance, she took an interest in incorporating ritual and ceremony in the context of dance and has traveled internationally to study and participate in indigenous rituals. Toward this goal she became ordained as a Priestess of Isis (the Egyptian Goddess of Dance). Applying this work with her master’s degrees specialties, she has created a course of study called Shamanic Fusion Dance that develops professional dance performances and community dance ceremonies from the viewpoint of its artistic expressiveness as a “Medicine of Movement”: dances that move beyond entertainment, that open the mind and soul, that heal the personal and the communal.

She travels extensively, both nationally and internationally, as a featured master teacher, performer, choreographer and adjudicator for universities and festivals where she choreographs, directs, trains dancers and teaches teachers the exceptional unique methods of dance and performance training she created. She is well known for her unique methodologies for training professional dancers who improve rapidly to attain the highest tenets in the art of dance performance through Ray’s classes, Intuitive Technique and Waking Dreams in the form called Shamanic Fusion Dance.

For Ray, the synthesis of disparate forms of dance provides a fresh forum for exploration and understanding of the unmistakable beauty of light, darkness and the honesty of our humanness. Seeking to expose the extraordinary within the ordinary, Ray’s work has long delved into the subculture of shadow and light, figuratively and literally. She believes that dance has the potential to change the world, giving pause to the viewer, evoking thoughts and inspiring questions. In its authentic form, dance speaks human truths and cannot lie.

Internationally acclaimed as a dancer, director and choreographer, and recognized internationally as a featured master teacher, Ray has produced over 300 professional concerts, directed dance departments at a university, a college and a community center, and founded and directed a non-profit dance company as well as a studio/theater. She is a frequent guest artist for professional dance companies and university dance programs, and her work has been presented, commissioned and performed by numerous professional companies, universities and colleges.

She was instrumental in the development of modern dance when, as a graduate student and in her post graduate work Ray created non-gender partnering as a time when women never lifted each other in dance. This caused an international stir, and she received awards and honors for this groundbreaking work from the Martha Graham Dance Company, Dance Magazine, American Dance Festival, American College Dance Festival, National College Dance Festival and in selection for her first international tour, an honorary tour to Finland. In her later career she founded a dance studio/theater that was the home of the MAD BAD Festival (Moving Art Dance, Bay Area Dance). A cornerstone event in the Bay Area for National Dance Week, the 2-week marathon of dance supported the development of local, national and international choreographers for nearly a decade.

Ray served on the Izzies Awards Committee of the Bay Area, attending 40 concerts of various styles a year for 3 years and awarding the outstanding performances, as well as being on the founding board of the Bay Area Celebrates National Dance Week committee which created the foundation for the ongoing annual celebrations of dance.

For her contributions in dance she has been inducted into the Contra Costa County Women’s Hall of Fame and as an honorary Kentucky Colonel, has received commendations from the US Senate and the CA Assembly, was named as one of 25 Women Leading the Arts and as a Visionary for the 21st Century, and she received the Las Vegas “Daffy Award” (Dance as an Art Form -2009), the Cingular Award for Community Service (2006) and has received numerous grants and awards. She has received national choreography awards including receiving the highest national award granted by the National College Dance Association (selection for performance at the Kennedy Center, WA DC, 2016 and 1986), the WestWave Choreographic Commissioning Project Award (SF 2014), sjCHOREOfest Award (CA 2007, 2011), selection for the Gala Concert of the American College Dance Festivals (OR 1986, WA 1988, NM 1990, AZ 2016), Choreography Award from the American Dance Festival (NC 1986) and selection as a choreographer for the one and only Martha Graham Company Festival (AZ 1982).

Ms. Ray danced principal roles on international tours with honorary dance companies from ASU and UCLA, in addition to professional work with “A Ludwig Co” in AZ, “DanceArt” in San Francisco, “Clarence Teeters and Friends” in NY, and Moving Arts Dance and The Dance Apprentice Company. She has danced in choreography of Merce Cunningham, Laura Dean, Tandy Beal, Cliff Keuter, Jose’ Limon, Doris Humphrey, Margaret Jenkins, Claire Whistler, Duncan McFarland, Rhonda Martin, Michael Lowe and Viktor Kabaniaev among her many revered mentors and teachers including Beth Lessard and Margaret Gisolo.
She has two Master of Arts degrees from UCLA (Choreography with a second emphasis in Kinesiology and a second Masters in Dance/Movement Therapy), most recently spent a semester as the artistic director of the university dance company at CSU Fresno, where she is a frequent guest artist, was the Director of the Dance Program at the University of the Pacific and Yavapai College, faculty at Santa Monica College, leads residencies and lectures for universities and festivals as well as adjudicating for several dance festivals and granting committees nationally and internationally, as well as choreographing on college, university and professional dance companies.   Ray enjoys partnerships with Labayen Dance SF as Artistic Advisor and Guest Choreographer, and ongoing artistic collaborations with Enrico Labayen and CSU Fresno Professor Kenneth Balint.

She is the teacher of teachers.

For over forty years in dance, Anandha has created a spiritual connection of the soul through movement. Walking this path secretly as a professional choreographer who would be shunned and loose funding if the truth was revealed, she didn’t talk about

spirituality, but just did the work. “Spiritual” and “sacred” are words that are so charged that in the professional world they are shunned.  But, without saying so, Anandha’s work dove deeply in the level of the healing arts in performance.  On many occasions people have been so touched by viewing one of her dances that they have written to Anandha to tell her how it changed their lives. On five occasions, viewers have written her letters telling her that viewing her dance brought back the connection to the world that kept them from committing suicide.  This is a force of energy that drives Anandha’s passion.  Dance heals.

Anandha_close-smHer performances have always danced on the edges of the play of shadow and light in the subconscious realm.  This is what defines Sacred Dance for Anandha.

She feels that dance has the power to change the world by providing insight into the soul of humanity, allowing people to feel seen and understood. This is what made her work so successful when her company was performing on the US Embassy international tours called “Dance Without Borders”, they illuminated the soul of humanity, the authentic parts of our humanness that we all share no matter where we are from.

This is what guides her work today as she leads dancers to understand the spiritual connection to dance from a viewpoint informed by a lifetime of professional dance as well as one who walks the planet as if all is sacred.


Anandha Ray is a member of the 
third generation of Modern Dancers

Ray started her career with intensive studies from the second generation of modern dancers: 

Margaret Gisolo 

         who was trained by Mary Wigman, Martha Graham, 
         Jose Limon and Doris Humphrey
Cliff Keuter 
         from the original company of Paul Taylor     

Daniel Nagrin 
         who studied with Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, 
         Anna Sokolow, Hanya Holm, and his first wife,
         Helen Tamiris

Alwin Nikolais
         who studied with Hanya Holm, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman and Louis Horst

Risa Steinberg
          who danced with Jose Limon for 11 years

Dr. Emma Lou Thomas
          who was trained by Mary Wigman

Additionally Ray danced with 

Tandy Beal and
Claudia Melrose
          both members of Alwin Nikolais company.

Kelly Roth,
who was a member of Murray Louis’ company

and performed:

  •       3 of Doris Humphrey’s dances
  •       2 dances by Jose Limon set by Risa Steinberg
  •       2 dances by Cliff Keuter
  •       and performed on a tour by Laura Dean
  •       as well as myriads of wonderful choreographers of the second generation of modern dancers including:
    Tandy Beal
    Bill Evans
    Beth Lessard
    Ann Ludwig
    Claudia Melrose
    Joanna Mendle-Shaw
    Clarence Teeters
    and MANY third generation ballet and modern choreographers

Ray has trained in classes and workshops with masters in the dance world in intensive studies across the country, including:

  • Alwin Nikolias
  • American Dance Festival 
  • Bill Evans Dance Company
  • Eric Hawkins
  • Murray Lewis
  • Philobolus
  • Tandy Beal Dance Company
  • The Martha Graham studio
  • and several NY, LA and SF based teachers and choreographers.

Shamanic Fusion Dance:

After retiring from a career in professional contemporary dance of over 30 years, she is creating the world of Shamanic Fusion Dance.  Utilizing her experiences to create a radical departure from her previous career, Shamanic Fusion Dance encompasses a world in which dance serves the function of ritual, ceremony AND art.  Shamanic Fusion Dance develops professional dance performances and community dance ceremonies from the viewpoint of its artistic expressiveness as a “Medicine of Movement”: dances that move beyond entertainment, that open the mind and soul, that heal the personal and the communal.

As research into ritual and ceremony, Ray has traveled extensively to experience indigenous ceremonies, and has been ordained as a Priestess of Isis (thus the title: Reverend Priestess).  As she leads ceremonies, performances, workshops and retreats of Shamanic Fusion Dance, she not only draws upon these experiences but on her training as a dance therapist working in the realm of subconscious belief systems and her international experiences in professional dance.

Currently she leads dancers on Shamanic Journeys in Mexico, in retreats in California and at festivals internationally.  She is has founded the Iseum of Quimera, training Priest/ess initiates in a one-year Priest/ess of Isis training to become legally ordained clergy and work through dance as a healing ritual, ceremony and performance art.

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