MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis-based Ragamala Dance Company is set to celebrate its 25th anniversary season with the world premiere of “Body, the Shrine.”
In this milestone year, Ashwini Ramaswamy joins her mother, Ranee Ramaswamy, and sister, Aparna Ramaswamy, in an intergenerational partnership to create a one of a kind work.
“It’s an art form. It has rhythm, it has body movements, it has facial expressions. It’s almost like being an actor,” Ranee said, describing the dance. “It’s almost like being an actor but also dancing with it.”
Ranee is the co-artist director along with her daughter Aparna.
“I always say I go to work with my children. I think every parent wants to have their children with them for a long time and I am blessed every single day,” Ranee said.
It’s an art form she has been practicing since she was 7 years old in India. Then her daughter Aparna expressed that same passion at the same age. Together the two traveled back and forth to India, visiting family and staying dedicated to dance, learning from one of the best teachers in the world: Alarmel Valli.
The company’s work explores the tension between the ancestral and the personal. For the first time Ranee will create a piece not just with her daughter Aparna, but with Ashwini as well. The three have been practicing for hours as they prepare for the world premiere of “Body, the Shrine.”
“It eliminates the idea that the divine lives within us. If we choose to dedicate ourselves to someone or something, and not within a particular structure, and idea it does exist with ourselves,” Apara said.
“It’s a very intricate style of dance that you have to learn for a lifetime, and you’ll still never be an expert,” Ashwini said, adding this particular performance is special as it really allows her to reflect on her heritage. “Even though I was born in the United States I travel to India often, these kinds of experiences and learning about history is more of what I’m looking for with this work.”
The commitment to their craft as taken them all over the world and their mother says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m tremendously happy and I think I want to keep doing this forever, because if my kids were not there I probably wouldn’t have that,” Ranee said.
If you are interested in attending the performance this weekend, tickets are $25. There are performances this upcoming Thursday and Friday. All performances at the Cowles Center are accompanied by a musical ensemble from South India.