Ragamala Dance Company creates work that conveys a sense of reverence, of unfolding mystery, of universal celebration. Co-Directors Ranee Ramaswamy and Â Aparna Ramaswamy draw from the myth and spirituality of their South Indian heritage to make dance landscapes that dwell in oppositionâ€”secular and spiritual life, inner and outer worlds, human and natural concerns, rhythm and stillnessâ€”to find the transcendence that lies in between.Â
Now in its 22ndÂ season, Ragamala has toured extensively, both nationally and internationally; touring highlights include the American Dance Festival (North Carolina), Music Center of Los Angeles (California), New Victory Theater (New York), University Musical Society (Michigan), Phillips Center (Florida), Lied Center (Kansas), Just Festival (Edinburgh, United Kingdom), Bali Arts Festival (Indonesia), Soorya Festival (Kerala, India), and National Centre for Performing Arts (Mumbai, India).
Ragamala tours regularly with a company comprised of 4-6 dancers and 4-5 musicians, plus 1-3 staff and crew.
RANEE RAMASWAMY and APARNA RAMASWAMY 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 oppositionâ€”secular and spiritual life, inner and outer worlds, human and natural concerns, rhythm and stillnessâ€”to find the transcendence that lies in between. As mother and daughter, each brings her generational experience to the workâ€”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 protĂ©gĂ©s and senior disciples of legendary dancer and choreographer AlarmĂ©l Valli, known as one of Indiaâ€™s greatest living masters, Ranee and Aparnaâ€™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 Aparnaâ€™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), and the American Composers Forum. Ranee and Aparna were jointly named â€ś2011 Artist of the Yearâ€ť by the MinneapolisÂ Star Tribune.Â Â Their upcoming work,Â Written in Water,Â has been selected for a development residency at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC).Â
Ranee has worked tirelessly for the last three decades to find a place for Bharatanatyam in the landscape of American dance.Â Since her first cross-cultural collaboration with poet Robert Bly, Raneeâ€™s work hasÂ merged the classical language ofÂ Bharatanatyam with a contemporary Western aesthetic to create timeless pieces that freely move between the past and the present. 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. Ranee serves on the National Council on the Arts, appointed by President Barack Obama. Most recently, she is the recipient of a 2014 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.Â
Aparnaâ€™sÂ choreography and performance have been described asÂ "a marvel of buoyant agility and sculptural clarity"(Dance Magazine),Â â€śthrillingly three-dimensional,â€ťÂ andÂ â€śan enchantingly beautiful dancer,â€ťÂ (The New York Times). She has toured her work extensively, both as a soloist and as choreographer/principal dancer of Ragamala. 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, two Jerome Foundation Travel Study Grants, an Artist Exploration Fund Grant from Arts International, two Artist Initiative Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation Choreographic Support, and the Lakshmi Vishwanathan Endowment Prize from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha (Chennai, India). Her solo work hasÂ toured the U.S. and India with support from the National Dance Project and USArtists International.Â In 2010, Aparna was named one of â€ś25 to Watchâ€ť 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.Â