Company

About Ragamala Dance Company
Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy, Co- Artistic Directors

Now in its 23rd year, Ragamala Dance Company was born out of the creative vision of Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy. As choreographers and performers, they explore the dynamism of Bharatanatyam, from its ancient roots to its contemporary possibilities. Ranee and Aparna have developed over 30 full evenings of work, through which they have created their own specific sub-genre that combines a contemporary Western aesthetic with an Indian ethos. Ragamala creates work that conveys a sense of reverence, of unfolding mystery, of universal celebration, creating new paradigms for cultural hybridity in the 21st century.

Ragamala’s work is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, MAP Fund, New Music/USA, USArtists International, Japan Foundation, American Composers Forum, and a Joyce Award. Ragamala is an empaneled group with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (of the Government of India).

Ragamala’s work has been commissioned by Walker Art Center(MN), Lincoln Center (NY), Krannert Center (IL) & Clarice Smith PAC (MD), and presented by American Dance Festival (NC), Kennedy Center (DC), Music Center of L.A.(CA), University Musical Society (MI), Just Festival (U.K.), Bali Arts Festival (Indonesia) & National Centre for Performing Arts (Mumbai, India).

Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy (Concept/Choreography) are Artistic Directors, Choreographers, and Principal Dancers of Ragamala Dance, founded by Ranee in 1992. As dancemakers and performers, they explore the dynamic tension between the ancestral and the contemporary, making dance landscapes that dwell in opposition—secular and spiritual life, inner and outer worlds, human and natural concerns, rhythm and stillness—to find the transcendence that lies in between. As mother and daughter, each brings her generational experience to the work—the rich traditions, deep philosophical roots, and ancestral wisdom of India meeting and merging with the curiosity, openness, and creative freedom fostered in the United States. As protégés and senior disciples of legendary dancer and choreographer Alarmél Valli, known as one of India’s greatest living masters, Ranee and Aparna’s training in the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam is the bedrock of a creative aesthetic that prioritizes truthful emotion above all else.

Ranee and Aparna’s work is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, MAP Fund, The McKnight Foundation, New Music/USA, USArtists International and the Japan Foundation, and has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Lincoln Center Out of Doors (New York), the Krannert Center (University of Illinois), the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (University of Maryland), the American Composers Forum, Opening Nights at FSU, and the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC).

Ranee is a 2014 recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and currently serves on the National Council on the Arts, appointed by President Obama. Among her many awards are 14 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Choreography and Interdisciplinary Art, a Bush Fellowship for Choreography, a 2011 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, and a 2012 United States Artists Fellowship.

Aparna’s choreography and performance have been described as "a marvel of buoyant agility and sculptural clarity" (Dance Magazine), “thrillingly three-dimensional,” and “an enchantingly beautiful dancer,” (The New York Times). She has been awarded several honors, including three McKnight Artist Fellowships for Dance and Choreography, a Bush Fellowship for Choreography, an Arts and Religion grant funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, choreographic and travel support from the Jerome Foundation and Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Lakshmi Vishwanathan Endowment Prize from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha (Chennai, India). Her solo work has toured the U.S. and India with support from the National Dance Project and USArtists International. In 2010, Aparna was named one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine. Aparna is an empaneled artist with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (of the Government of India). She serves on the Board of Trustees of Dance/USA. 

Ranee Ramaswamy

Founder/ Artistic Director/ Choreographer/ Principal Dancer

Aparna Ramaswamy

Artistic Director/ Choreographer/ Principal Dancer

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Photos by Ed Bock, Bonnie-Jean MacKay, Emily Maltz, Pat O’Laughlin, Raman Bros Photography and Jonathan Chapman Photography