Fires of Varanasi: Dance of the Eternal Pilgrim
Ragamala Dance Company
Ragamala Dance Company was founded in 1992 by Ranee Ramaswamy. Now under the direction of Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy (mother and daughter), the company is in its 25th season of creating intercultural, collaborative performance works that forge together ancestry and continuity. In this milestone year, long-time Ragamala soloist Ashwini Ramaswamy has joined her mother and sister in their intergenerational creative partnership.
As first generation Indian-American artists, Ranee and Aparna’s aesthetic is deeply influenced by their cultural hybridity. Thematically, they explore the myth and spirituality of their Indian heritage in order to engage with what they see as the dynamic tension between the historical, the ancestral, and the personal. They approach the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam as a living, breathing language with which to speak about the contemporary human experience.
Described as “soulful, imaginative and rhythmically contagious” (The New York Times) and “the standard bearer of a singularly successful kind of hybridity” (The Huffington Post), Ragamala’s work has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, the Krannert Center for Performing Arts at the University of Illinois, the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), and Opening Nights Performing Arts at Florida State University, and has been developed in residence at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC) and during an NPN residency at The Yard.
The company has been recognized with awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Japan Foundation/New York, USArtists International, New Music/USA, MAP Fund, American Composers Forum, and two Joyce Awards from the Joyce Foundation.
Ragamala tours extensively, highlighted by the American Dance Festival, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Music Center of Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, University Musical Society at the University of Michigan, the Just Festival (Edinburgh, U.K.) the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Sri Krishna Gana Sabha (Chennai), and the National Centre for Performing Arts (Mumbai), among others.