As mother and daughter choreographers, Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy explore the myth and spirituality of their Indian heritage through the lens of their experience as immigrants living within two cultures. Ragamala Dance Company is driven to share their vision of Bharatanatyam as a dynamic, living art form with audiences across boundaries of language, culture, and faith.
From March 2019 – February 2020, Ragamala Dance Company will use this monthly event series to explore 12 aspects of Written in Water with events across St. Paul.
Ragamala Rooted is supported in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation through the Knight St. Paul Arts Challenge, the Mardag Foundation, the F.R. Bigelow Foundation, The Saint Paul Foundation, Target, and the City of St. Paul Cultural Sales Tax Revitalization Program.
In Written in Water and all of Ragamala’s work, Co-Artistic Directors Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy approach the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam as a living, breathing language with which to speak about the contemporary human experience.
For this event, Aparna and Ranee Ramaswamy introduce participants to Bharatanatyam, providing an overview of the technique and development of this classical dance form. Participants learn how Ragamala uses Bharatanatyam to express contemporary points of view, the challenges inherent in issues of immigration, cultural hybridity, and the dynamic tension between history and the current moment, all inspiring discussion about the place of culturally rooted art forms in the 21st century.
Through all of Ragamala Dance Company’s collaborative and multidisciplinary work, Co-Artistic Directors Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy are fully committed to maintaining and promoting the rigor of the classical Bharatanatyam form, even while evolving this form into new contemporary artistic paradigms.
For this event, Brooklyn Rider, a New York-based string quartet with a similar commitment to maintaining, promoting, and evolving a classical form, leads a lecture-demonstration at the Schubert Club Museum. Attendees have the opportunity to meet the artists from both Ragamala and Brooklyn Rider.
4:30pm-6:30pm – Reception
5:30pm – Lecture/Demonstration
Founded and led by immigrants from India, Ragamala’s intergenerational, culturally-hybridic practice illuminates the fluidity of ancient, cultural forms to speak to the contemporary human experience.
For this event, Rick Shiomi and Martha Johnson of Full Circle Theater Company join Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy for a conversation moderated by acclaimed theater artist Sandy Agustín. The conversation explores the opportunities and challenges of working across and within cultural forms and cultural communities to find a place for these art forms in the American milieu of contemporary arts.
In Written in Water, Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy explore the concept of spiritual ascension through the age-old Indian board game Paramapadam (a precursor to Snakes and Ladders). In the creation of Written in Water, the dancers played Paramapadam hundreds of times, using their studio floor as the board.
For this event, we invite you to play Paramapadam at the Flint Hills Family Festival, presented by Ordway Center—including large-scale boards taped out on the floor of the Ordway—and to delve into the moral and psychological implications of the game.
The guru-shishya (teacher-disciple) tradition in India is central to the lineage and continuation of Bharatanatyam and Ragamala’s place in the Bharatanatyam world. To continue the tradition of guru-shishya, Ranee and Aparna run the Ragamala School to pass on the lineage that they learned from Smt. Alarmél Valli.
To learn more about this tradition of teaching and the next generation of Ragamala dancers, the Ragamala School presents its annual Student Performance.
In Written in Water, Water, Ragamala draws literary inspiration from several myths and stories from both the Hindu and Sufi traditions. These stories frame both a narrative arc for Written in Water and create a world on stage for the dancers to explore the universal paradigm of a seeker on a journey.
To learn more about the rich tradition of Hindu myths and stories, Zaraawar Mistry presents Children’s Stories from India, a family-friendly storytelling performance. Enter a world of magic and imagination with Indian-born actor and storyteller Zaraawar Mistry, in his retelling of classic myths, historical stories and animal fables from India. Greg Herriges plays live music on guitar and bouzouki (Greek lute).
The mother-daughters relationship between Ranee Ramaswamy and daughters, Aparna and Ashwini Ramaswamy, is central to the creative identity of Ragamala. Ranee, who immigrated to the United States as an adult, Aparna, who immigrated as a 5-year old child, and Ashwini, who was born in the United States, each bring a unique generational perspective to Ragamala’s creative identity.
For this event, the Ramaswamy family explores the importance of their familial foundation for their artistic work. Event details to be announced.
Fall 2019, Date TBA
Written in Water was inspired by and developed from both literature and music rooted in multiple faith traditions. Drawing inspirations primarily from Hindu and Sufi faith traditions, Ragamala uses these traditions and the intersections between them to create rich and complex stage performances.
This event further explores Aparna and Ranee’s process of working within and between multiple faith traditions.
The rituals and traditions of India shape Ragamala’s work, history, and mission. To explore one of these traditions, Ragamala Dance Company presents our 5th Annual Ode to Navarathri Kolu in the lobby of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.
This annual celebration is an extension of Ranee and Aparna’s mission to share the traditions of their upbringing with their Twin Cities community. Celebrated in homes across southeastern India, Navarathri Kolu is an organic and intimate sharing of art amongst neighbors, families, and friends. Ode to Navarathri Kolu embodies our ongoing dedication to sharing Indian arts and culture with U.S. audiences, and weaving the Indian-American experience into the fabric of our Twin Cities community.
The musical score of Written in Water, co-composed by Smt. Prema Ramamurthy and Amir ElSaffar, combine influences and performers from South Indian Carnatic, Iraqi Maqam, and American Jazz musical traditions.
This event explores the Carnatic tradition with a performance by a renown Carnatic musician. Event details to be announced.
Winter 2020, Date TBA
The musical score of Written in Water, co-composed by Amir ElSaffar and Smt. Prema Ramamurthy, combine influences and performers from Iraqi Maqam, American Jazz, and South Indian Carnatic musical traditions.
For this event, Amir ElSaffar presents a lecture-demonstration exploring the Iraqi Maqam. Event details to be announced.
Exact Date TBA
The musical score of Written in Water, co-composed by Amir ElSaffar and Smt. Prema Ramamurthy, combines influences and performers from American Jazz, Iraqi Maqam, and South Indian Carnatic musical traditions.
For this event, Amir ElSaffar explores this Jazz tradition with a free public master class at Walker|West. Event date and details to be announced.