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Ragamala Dance Company presents Fires of Varanasi at Soorya Festival in India
October 11, 2022 - October 17, 2022
Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy’s Ragamala Dance Company, now in its 30th year, presents Fires of Varanasi: Dance of the Eternal Pilgrim at the 45th Annual Soorya Festival on October 11-17, 2022 at various locations in Kerala, India. This six-performance engagement is part of Ragamala’s 22/23 Season, which culminates with a 30th Anniversary Gala Celebration in July 2023. For more information, visit .ragamaladance.org/upcoming
Rooted in the expansive South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam, Ragamala Dance Company manifests a kindred relationship between the ancient and the contemporary. In their latest evening-length performance, Fires of Varanasi: Dance of the Eternal Pilgrim, eleven dancers conjure a realm where time is suspended and humans merge with the divine. Award-winning creators Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy imagine a metaphorical crossing place that enters into a ritualistic world of immortality, evoking the birth-death-rebirth continuum in Hindu thought to honor immigrant experiences of life and death in the diaspora.
The reigning deity of Varanasi is Shiva, from whose locks flows the Ganga. He is celebrated, invoked, and worshipped in this sacred city, where His dance transforms the desolation of the cremation ground into a wondrous experience of bhakti.
Bharatanatyam artists Aparna Ramaswamy and Ranee Ramaswamy have toured their work extensively, and are renowned for their rigor, physicality, and poetic expression. They are senior disciples of Padma Bhushan Smt. Alarmel Valli.
The performances will each be at a different location:
October 11, 2022: Kovalam
October 12, 2022: Varkala
October 13, 2022: Changanasseri
October 14, 2022: Vadagara
October 15, 2022: Pinarayi
October 17, 2022: Thiruvanathapuram
Ragamala Dance Company is the vision of award-winning mother/daughter artists Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy. Over the last four decades, Ranee and Aparna’s practice in the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam has created a unique trajectory for culturally rooted performing arts in the United States to create an exemplary company within the American dance landscape. Through both intimate solos and large-scale theatrical works for the stage, Ranee and Aparna empower the South Asian American experience. By engaging the dynamic tension between ancestral wisdom and creative freedom, they reveal the kindred relationship between ancient and contemporary that is urgently needed in today’s world. ragamaladance.org
“every gesture radiates joy or generosity or a sense of striving toward some higher form of being.”
– The New York Times
About Ragamala Dance Company
Ragamala Dance Company was founded in 1992 by Ranee Ramaswamy and is under the leadership of Artistic Directors Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy, and Choreographic Associate Ashwini Ramaswamy (mother and daughters). Rooted in the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam, the company has been hailed by The New York Times as “soulful, imaginative, and rhythmically contagious.”
Ragamala Dance Company is a pioneering, intergenerational, family-run organization committed to the idea that while history is time bound, the stories we share are timeless. Ragamala’s work in the performing arts field is expansive. Ragamala sets its gaze far beyond the stage to realize the kindred relationship between ancient and contemporary that is urgently needed in today’s world. Ragamala engages in a collaborative practice with myriad artists and aesthetics and is rooted in the idea of Bharatanatyam as a dynamic living tradition. Ranee and Aparna’s training under legendary artist Alarmél Valli is the bedrock of a creative ethos that springs from beauty, truth, and spirit.
Featuring Aparna Ramaswamy as Principal Dancer, Ragamala has been commissioned and presented extensively throughout the U.S., India, and abroad, highlighted by the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), Joyce Theater (New York), Lincoln Center (New York), Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (MA), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), American Dance Festival (Durham, NC), The Soraya (Southern California), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, International Festival of Arts & Ideas (New Haven, CT), Cal Performances (Berkeley), Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Just Festival (Edinburgh, U.K.), Bali Arts Festival (Indonesia), Sri Krishna Gana Sabha (Chennai, India), and National Centre for Performing Arts (Mumbai, India), among others.
Ranee Ramaswamy serves on the National Council on the Arts, appointed by President Barack Obama. Among her recent awards and honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship (Italy), Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Research Fellowship (Italy), United States Artists Fellowship, and McKnight Distinguished Artist Award.
Aparna is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship (Italy), Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Research Fellowship (Italy), Joyce Award, and Bush Fellowship for Choreography, among others, and has been selected as one of Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch for 2010. ragamaladance.org