Show Run Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Ragamala Dance Company returns to the Harris Theater with Children of Dharma, a new evening-length piece that builds upon decades of the company’s pioneering work. Centering ancestral wisdom, artistic excellence, and creativity to contextualize the immigrant experience, Ragamala Dance Company continues to uphold dance as a spiritual practice that can inspire, heal, and transform communities. 

Created by company founder and Co-Artistic Director Ranee Ramaswamy with her daughters, Executive Artistic Director Aparna Ramaswamy and Choreographic Associate Ashwini Ramaswamy, Children of Dharma reveals the rippling effects of dharma, or “right action,” wordlessly through the body. The work provokes a visceral response to crises over the ages, from environmental devastation and oppression to unjust wars. Why does war unleash the animal in man? What have we done to our relationship with the natural world? In response to these questions, the power of ancient cultures is vitally relevant — to connect us to our ancestors, to harmonize, to heal, and to reaffirm the existence of beauty and truth. 

Children of Dharma begins with a solitary dancer emerging from the aftermath of an inevitable conflict, a symbolic representation of the looming shadow of war. The choreography, influenced by movement traditions from India and the Hindu diaspora (South Indian Bharatanatyam and Khmer Cambodian dance), captures the allure of the gods and their power to entrance and entrap mortals. Set to an original recorded score, Children of Dharma integrates intimate solos with powerful ensemble choreography performed by seven dancers. 

The choreographers were influenced by Keerthik Sasidharan’s 2021 novel The Dharma Forest, which reimagines the Mahabharata, one of India’s foundational texts. Through movement, music, language, semiotics, and projections, Children of Dharma delves into the moral and physical price exacted on and outside of an epic battlefield. The work reveals the power of an ancient epic to unearth some of the most enduring questions of conscience facing humanity. 

“A wholly magnificent piece of live art.” — Chicago Tribune
A group of ballerinas performing on stage.

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