Andrew Stark & Erik Tormoen, MN Monthly
Dancer and choreographer Ranee Ramaswamy created a space for classical Indian performance in Minnesota after she moved here from India with her three-year-old daughter, Aparna, in 1978. In the mid ‘80s, one of India’s premier dancers visited the Twin Cities and took Ranee and Aparna under her tutelage. Around 1992, the year she founded Minneapolis’ Ragamala Dance Company, Ranee started adapting her centuries-old art for mainstream audiences. Since then, as co-artistic director and artistic associate, Aparna and her younger sister, Ashwini, respectively, have worked alongside their mother to maintain Indian cultural integrity while achieving global accessibility.
“It’s hard for people to get their minds around the fact that we do create work together. I think especially when it’s me and my mother, people often think: Ranee started it, now Aparna’s throwing it on. But it’s only when they hear our story that they understand how we are partners. She is not grooming the next generation. We’ve always been one generation. And I’ve been observing this my whole life, so it feels natural to slip into the mix. And now Ashwini’s joining us. It’s a mother, one daughter, and then another daughter...The fact that we have this perspective that comes from different ages and different experiences and different immigrant stories is really valuable to our work.”
- Aparna Ramaswamy