MPR News - Art Hounds: Brooklyn Rider joins Ragamala Dance at The O'Shaughnessy

Brooklyn Rider string quartet and Ragamala Dance share the stage this Friday at The O'Shaughnessy in St. Paul.

APRIL 11, 2019
Original Article

Dancer Dana Kassel is headed to The O'Shaughnessy to see Ragamala Dance and Brooklyn Rider. To be clear, Ragamala Dance is not performing to the music of Brooklyn Rider. Instead, each will perform for half of the evening on the same stage. Kassel says the two groups have more in common than one might think — both are taking classical forms and reinterpreting them for a contemporary audience. The performance takes place on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Longtime language teacher Jim Peterson recommends checking out MotionArt's new show. It's called "Collabulous" because it features multiple "fabulous collaborations" with other local artists, including painter Edward Bock and composer Bruce Wintervold. Peterson says the dancers, who range from professional to lifelong hobbyists, span multiple generations and bring refreshing energy to the stage. "Collabulous" runs Friday through Sunday at the Howard Conn Fine Arts Center in Minneapolis.

Writer Jean Sramek is a big fan of "Gag Me with a Spoon," a monthly community story share at Teatro Zuccone in downtown Duluth. It's an evening of stories that range from funny to tragic to downright weird. Sramek says the audience is incredibly supportive, and the performance is a reminder of all the stories we each carry with us. "Gag Me with a Spoon" hits the stage next on Sunday from 7 to 9 p.m.

City Pages - A List 4.10

Check out all the great things happening this week in the Twin Cities.

APRIL 10, 2019
Original Article


Contempo Physical Dance
The Cowles Center

Contempo Physical Dance, a group that fuses Afro-Brazilian, capoeira, and contemporary forms, presents two pieces at the Cowles Center. One is the world premiere of “Lágrima Fora do Lugar (Tear Out of Place),” a new solo choreographed and performed by artistic director Marciano Silva Dos Santos. For that work, Dos Santos conducted research in Brazil, interviewing quilombolas, Afro-Brazilian residents of the quilombo settlements first established by escaped slaves in Brazil. He also draws inspiration from a book by Brazilian actress and author Suely Bispo, whose voice makes up part of a sound composition by Divan Gattamorta. “SenZalma,” which debuted in 2014, takes its title from the word “senzalas,” which means “slave quarters,” and “alma,” the word for “soul.” Inspired by the poem “O Navio Negreiro (The Slave Ship)” by 19th-century Brazilian abolitionist Antonio de Castro Alves, the piece uses symbolic gestures to evoke this awful part of Brazil’s history. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $20-$28. 528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-206-3600. Through Saturday —Sheila Regan

Ragamala Dance Company and Brooklyn Rider
O’Shaughnessy Auditorium

Here’s how classical lives on in contemporary art. For tonight’s performance at the O’Shaughnessy, string quartet Brooklyn Rider, first introduced to us by Liquid Music, will reimagine the restorative properties of classical music with “Healing Modes,” based on compositions by Beethoven and five contemporary women composers. Then Ashwini Ramaswamy leads her troupe, Ragamala Dance Company, in a new work she created. Titled “Nocturne,” the piece utilizes the classical Indian dance form Bharatanatyam to reimagine the relationships between the human, natural, and metaphysical migrations that occur at night. 7:30 p.m. $34. 2004 Randolph Ave., St. Paul; 651-690-6700. —Camille LeFevre

Tiki Weekend Spring Kickoff
Du Nord Craft Spirits

It’s spring in Minnesota. That means one day we might get slushy snow, the next it will be sunny and bikeable. All of that is better than what we had last month, so let’s celebrate. This weekend, Du Nord is hosting a staycation in Minneapolis. They’ll be busting out a rum they’ve saved for this party, and will mix it into fancy tiki drinks. Food trucks will stop by each day. Potter’s Pasties and Pies is scheduled for Friday, and singer-songwriter James Rone will play tunes that evening. The patio will be open all weekend, and spring attire is encouraged. 4 p.m. to midnight Friday; noon to midnight Saturday. 2610 32nd St. E., Minneapolis; 612-799-9166. Also Saturday —Jessica Armbruster

MinnPost - Forget the Snow

Choreograph your spring and summer around these 11 dance performances

APRIL 10, 2019
Original Article

The picks

Tonight (Wednesday, April 10) at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival: “Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin.” A loving and illuminating biography of the great fantasy/science fiction writer and creator of Earthsea. Director Arwen Curry combines narrative, interviews, and animation to explore Le Guin’s life, work, and expansive imagination. Interviews with authors including Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon and Neil Gaiman hint at her profound influence. 9:45 p.m. Also Friday at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. FMI including trailer, times and tickets ($15/11/8).

Friday at Mixed Blood Theatre: Double Sided: A Literary Reading. This sold out long ago, but turnbacks happen, and April snowstorms, so you never know. Jana Shortal will host a literary evening with rapper, singer and essayist Dessa, poet Donte Collins, science writer Maggie Ryan Sanford and writer and performer Shane Hawley, with a mystery musical guest. 7:30 p.m. FMI. 612-338-6131.

Friday at the O’Shaughnessy: Ragamala Dance Company and Brooklyn Rider: A Shared Evening. The Bharatanatyam dance ensemble and the string quartet won’t perform together. But they know and respect each other, and they feel they are similar in aesthetic mission, so they’re doing a split-bill evening. Ragamala’s co-artistic director Aparna Ramaswamy explained, “We both use family as an incubator to absorb and re-create our artistic lineage” and “we both believe our respective mediums are not museum pieces.” We recently saw another split-bill evening, BRKFST Dance Company and Kaleena Miller Dance at the Cowles, and it worked brilliantly. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets (adult $34; other pricing available).

Saturday: Record Store Day. Looking at the list of indie record stores taking part in this year’s Record Store Day, we see several that have hung on for decades, through vinyl and 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs and back to vinyl again, through Napster and torrents and what’s been called the collapse of the music industry in the first decade of the 2000s, to the consolidation and homogenization of radio and the rise of streaming. And, for Electric Fetus, the 35W construction. Talk about resilience. Raise a tonearm or your vintage Walkman to the Fetus, Know Name, Down in the Valley, Homestead Pickin’ Parlor, Hymies,  Roadrunner and Cheapo as you shop for your chosen RSD exclusive releases. Maybe you’ll come home with the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s “The Spiritual” from 1974. Or Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks – Original New York Test Pressing.” Or Aretha Franklin’s “The Atlantic Singles 1967.” Or (wow!) “John Cage Meets Sun Ra” on 7″ vinyl and DVD. Not all stores will carry all releases, but you already know that. FMI.

Saturday at Orchestra Hall: Minnesota Orchestra: “Inside the Classics: Amy Beach – American Pioneer.” Sarah Hicks conducts and violist Sam Bergman hosts a program about the first American woman to compose a symphony. The first half will explore the life, technique and legacy of Beach (1867-1944), with excerpts performed by the orchestra. The second half will be Beach’s complete “Gaelic Symphony,” which the orchestra last performed in 1917. On Tuesday, Bergman tweeted, in part: “If you’re someone who, like me, thinks orchestras need to be doing more concerts that get away from the same fifteen dead white male composers, this is the kind of show we NEED you to buy tickets for.” He’s right, you know. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20-50).

Star Tribune - Nine Things to Do This Week

9 things to do this week: Record Store Day, Southside Johnny, Ragamala Dance, more

APRIL 8, 2019
Original Article

Indian dance and classical music, reimagined

Ragamala Dance Company and chamber ensemble Brooklyn Rider take old forms and spin them in new and magnificent ways. Now the two groups share an evening. Brooklyn Rider offers its fresh take on Beethoven’s Opus 132 along with five new commissions by female composers. Ragamala breathes new life into the South Indian dance form Bharatanatyam; with “Nocturne,” Ashwini Ramaswamy threads the personal and the divine with her choreography of a post-twilight journey. -Sheila Regan

7:30 p.m. Fri. The O’Shaughnessy, St. Paul. $34, 651-690-6700.

Pioneer Press - Spring Arts Preview

Choreograph your spring and summer around these 11 dance performances

APRIL 5, 2019
Original Article

Be the moves traditional Indian, Brazilian, on stage or on ice, it’s a fascinating season for dance. Here are 11 performances well worth catching. More spring/summer events.

Ragamala Dance Company and Brooklyn Rider

April 12: There was a time not so very long ago when one of the most interesting and innovative string quartets in classical music, Brooklyn Rider, hosted a summer festival in Stillwater to which they brought international masters like Swedish soprano Anne Sofie von Otter and banjoist Bela Fleck. Now the group is back, this time performing alongside and apart from the always mesmerizing traditional Indian dance troupe Ragamala. 7:30 p.m.; the O’Shaughnessy, St. Catherine University, 2004 Randolph Ave., St. Paul; $34-$30; 651-698-6700 or

Contempo Physical Dance

April 12-13: One of the pieces that put choreographer Marciano Silva dos Santos and his Twin Cities troupe on the map was “SenZalma.” It was an ideal creation for the company, which is devoted to finding a place where dances of the African diaspora, Afro-Brazilian culture and the modern dance medium find commonality. In this case, “SenZalma” is inspired by a poem by 19th-century Brazilian abolitionist Antonio de Castro Alves called “The Slave Ship,” and it expresses asserting one’s humanity in an environment that denies it. 7:30 p.m.; Goodale Theater, the Cowles Center, 528 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.; $28-$20; 612-206-3600 or

David Rousseve/Reality

David Rousseve and Reality (Courtesy photo)

April 13: One of America’s most exciting dance artists is David Rousseve, a visionary who creates works that explore a world divided by skin color, sexuality and economics. But Rousseve and his Los Angeles-based company, Reality, always find a way to deeply involve you in his dance works. Here, the troupe will perform “Halfway to Dawn,” inspired by the life and work of jazz composer Billy Strayhorn, a shy gay man who wrote many of Duke Ellington’s most famous tunes. 7:30 p.m.; Northrop Auditorium, 84 Church St. S.E., Mpls.; $47-$19; 612-624-2345 or

Shapiro & Smith Dance

April 19-20: It’s been 20 years since this Minneapolis-based modern dance company premiered “Notes from a Séance,” a piece that builds off the conflict between two early 20th-century women with different takes on spirituality and the people who become their followers. In this tale of hypocrisy, hysteria and hypnotism, choreographer Joanie Smith’s imagination will doubtless shine through. 8 p.m.; Goodale Theater, the Cowles Center; $29-$25; 612-206-3600 or

Le Patin Libre and Brownbody

Le Patin Libre (Courtesy photo)

April 25 and 27: Figure skating has always had the potential to be an art form that expands well beyond the strict parameters of Olympic competitions. The members of Montreal’s Le Patin Libre do just that, creating modern dance on skates on the frozen rivers and rinks of their home city. They’ll perform “Vertical Influences” here, in tandem with local figure skating modern dance troupe Brownbody offering excerpts from a new work, “Tracing Steps.” 4 p.m. (Brownbody), 6 and 8:30 p.m. (Le Patin Libre) April 25, Anderson Ice Arena, Breck School, 4210 Olson Memorial Highway, Golden Valley; 3 p.m. (Le Patin Libre), 5 p.m. (Brownbody) and 7:30 p.m. (Le Patin Libre) April 27, Charles M. Schulz Highland Arena, 800 S. Snelling Ave., St. Paul;  $30.50-$17.50; 612-624-2345 or

Candy Box Festival

April 29-May 4: Hats off to Arena Dances for putting together this annual mini-festival of local modern dance troupes with complementary — yet quite different — visions. This year, it features the April Sellers Dance Collective, Chris Schlichting and Darrius Strong’s STRONGmovement. While they’ll each perform Thursday through Saturday, there’s much more to Candy Box. Such as early-evening happy hour performances of works-in-progress at 5:30 Monday through Friday by Brenna Mosser Dance Works, Blake Nellis, Non Edwards, Arena Dances and Taja Will. And daytime workshops for dancers. Sellers, Schlichting and Strong: 7:30 p.m. May 2 and 3, 2 and 7:30 p.m. May 4; Southern Theater, 1425 Washington Ave. S., Mpls.; $20-$12;

TU Dance

May 3-5: To celebrate its 15th season at the O’Shaughnessy, St. Paul modern dance ensemble TU Dance will pay tribute to artists who have inspired its artistic directors, Uri Sands and Toni Pierce-Sands. Among them are Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of Urban Bush Women, whose “Walking with Pearl … Africa Diaries” will performed, as will Ron K. Brown’s “Where the Light Shines Through,” featuring a Cuban jazz score. 8 p.m. May 3 and 4, 2 p.m. May 5; the O’Shaughnessy; $34-$20; 651-698-6700 or


May 10-12: If you want to get a sense of what’s brewing in the local hip-hop dance scene, “Mixtape” is always a good place to start. A kind of curated forum for street artists, it will feature the most interesting artists that such local hip-hop standouts as Al Taw’am, Herbert Johnson III, Joelle Fernandez, Darrius Strong and J-Sun have discovered lately. Expect some breaking, krump, house and new jack swing. 7:30 p.m. May 10 and 11, 2 p.m. May 12; Goodale Theater, the Cowles Center; $25-$22; 612-206-3600 or

Derek Hough

May 17: What do you do for an encore once you’ve been the champion for six seasons of “Dancing with the Stars”? Well, Derek Hough has stopped competing on that show, but he still likes to show off his fancy footwork periodically. He’s out on a solo tour, demonstrating his athletic, graceful way with ballroom, tap, hip-hop and salsa. Choreographing the show with him are Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo, or NappyTabs, who have worked with Michael Jackson and Jennifer Lopez. 8 p.m.; State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.; $85-$59.50; 800-982-2787 or

Flying Foot Forum’s ‘Heaven’

June 7-23: For his latest choreographic creation, Flying Foot Forum’s Joe Chvala takes for inspiration the story of a photographer in 1990s Bosnia trying to save the life of his translator’s wife. It will feature the music of local Bosnian party band Orkestar Bez Ime, as well as original music by Suburbs co-founder Chan Poling. There will be plenty of dancing … but also singing and speaking. 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; Park Square Theatre Proscenium Stage, 20 W. Seventh Place, St. Paul; $27-$16; 651-291-7005 or

Zenon Dance Company’s final performances

June 13-16:Maybe not all great things come to an end, but one that will is the marvelous modern dance company that Linda Z. Andrews founded 36 years ago. Zenon has decided to disband, but not before a weekend of final performances that will feature a different program every night of dance introduced to local audiences by Zenon. 7:30 p.m. June 13-15, 2 p.m. June 16; Goodale Theater, Cowles Center; $100-$34; 612-206-3600 or

Dance Magazine - 3 Concerts, 2 Musicals and 1 Festival You Won’t Want to Miss This April

3 Concerts, 2 Musicals and 1 Festival You Won’t Want to Miss This April

APRIL 5, 2019
Original Article

There are more intriguing performances than one person could possibly see this month, so our editors' picks run the gamut. The topics—Greek mythology and systemic racism, the Ballets Russes and secondary incarceration—are as varied as the styles—contemporary, bharatanatyam, aerial. The one through line: They're bound to make you look at the world a little differently.

Stay Woke

Donald Byrd's SHOT

SEATTLE The violence of racism has long been a subject for Donald Byrd, artistic director of Spectrum Dance Theater. His new Wokeness Festival comprises three segments: 2017's SHOT, about the persistence of police brutality toward black men; Dance, Dance, Dance #2, which includes a nod to Merce Cunningham's centennial in the form of his 1960 work Crises and a new Cunningham-inspired work by Byrd; and the premiere of Byrd's Strange Fruit, which reflects his responses to the Jim Crow Era. The festival also includes community dialogue around issues of racism, gender and justice. April 10–28.—Wendy Perron

Only If for a Night

Ashwini Ramaswamy's Nocturne

ST. PAUL, MN String quartet Brooklyn Rider and acclaimed bharatanatyam troupe Ragamala Dance Company share an evening for the latest Women of Substance event at The O'Shaughnessy. The former opens with their "Healing Modes" and a quintet of commissions from women composers; the latter presents Ashwini Ramaswamy's Nocturne, an homage to the enigma of night. April 12.—Courtney Escoyne

Separation, Suspended

Flyaway Productions

SAN FRANCISCO AND RICHMOND, CA One of the forms of family separation that rarely gets aired in the media is the estrangement between inmates and the women who love them. Jo Kreiter, artistic director of Flyaway Productions, premieres The Wait Room, a site-specific work for six women that explores the emotional toll of these heart-wrenching circumstances. This is a personal piece for Kreiter, who endured "secondary incarceration" for years. Partnering with Oakland-based Essie Justice Group, an organization of women with incarcerated loved ones, Kreiter enlists the help of set designer Sean Riley and composer Pamela Z. San Francisco, April 19–27; Richmond, CA, May 17–18.—WP

When Ancient Was Avant-Garde

NEW YORK CITY Dance's favorite design duo, Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung, are back at Works & Process at the Guggenheim. This time, they're collaborating with New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World for a costume and dance commission responding to ISAW's exhibition "Hymn to Apollo: The Ancient World and the Ballets Russes" (through June 2), using original costumes and designs from Sergei Diaghilev's company as a leaping-off point. April 28–29.—CE


Oklahoma! at St. Ann's Warehouse

NEW YORK CITY Will this fresh revival, direct from its run at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn last fall, manage to retain its charming, disarming intimacy as it scales up to Broadway? John Heginbotham's choreography (inspired by Agnes de Mille's) will make the transfer, but we have to wonder whether the cast members will still be sharing bowls of chili with the audience at intermission. Opens April 7.—CE


Hadestown at London's National Theatre

NEW YORK CITY Hades is a factory owner and Persephone is (still) his bitter wife; Eurydice is looking for stability and Orpheus is (still) a talented, if unfor­tu­nate, musician. Greek mythology is scrambled and set to a slinky, soulful score in Hadestown. The David Neumann–choreographed musical opens on Broadway April 17 after its run at London's National Theatre. Whatever you do, don't look back. —CE

Dance the Yard - Nocturne Preview

Original Article

As is often the case in work rooted in diverse and often ancient cultures, the traditions and innovations within artistic practices – in this case, the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam – root and evolve within artist families across generations.  Such is the case of Ragamala, one of the most important South Asian dance companies in the world (now in their second visit to The Yard), a gentle but rigorous artistic matriarchy led by Ranee Ramaswamy (mother and co-Artistic Director),  Aparna Ramaswamy (daughter, sister and co-Artistic Director), and Nocturne’s choreographer Ashwini Ramaswamy (daughter and sister).  Everywhere they tour, audiences are astonished by the beauty and technique of the company’s craft, its adherence to the values embedded in the form, and its bold contemporary view of women’s representation in performance.


'Nocturne' included in Big Dance Town's best of 2016

by Caroline Palmer
Original Article

Ashwini Ramaswamy: A member of the renowned Ragamala Dance Company, Ramaswamy revealed her own choreography in the magical “Nocturne” at Red Eye Theater. Inspired by the dream-like mysteries of nighttime, the work drew upon poetry and a hint of entomology to transport audiences into a suspended realm where transcendent Bharatanatyam dance served as the vehicle for heart-filling enchantment.

Star Tribune Review - Nocturne

Dance review: 'Nocturne' an enchanting journey from dusk to dawn
Caroline Palmer, Star Tribune
REVIEW: Ashwini Ramaswamy holds the stage with confidence in ensemble piece "Nocturne." 
June 4, 2016
Original Article

It's no secret that the Ramaswamy family is full of talent. Matriarch Ranee and daughter Aparna, the co-artistic directors of Ragamala Dance Company, have led the Minneapolis-based troupe to acclaim around the world.

Daughter Ashwini is always a dependably striking presence as a soloist in Ragamala works but this weekend at the Red Eye Theater she owns the stage with her powerful Bharatanatyam creation, "Nocturne."

Inspired by her late grandfather, a renowned entomologist, Ashwini's vision of the mysterious moonlit realm, as witnessed on Thursday evening, begins with delicate hand gestures that evoke fluttering insects. But these are not the only creatures of the night she summons up. At times Ashwini's fingers become talons or claws. In more romantic moments she is waiting for a different kind of being, a lover, to emerge from the shadows.

Ragamala members Tamara Nadel and Jessica Fiala, as well as Ranee Ramaswamy, join her for the work which also features a dramatically rich musical composition by Shubhendra Rao (sitar), Saskia Rao-de Haas (cello) and Rajna Swaminathan (percussion).

While Ashwini is the featured performer she skillfully integrates the other seasoned dancers, especially her mother, who summons a mystical energy through her deliberate ritualized movements.

Ashwini drew upon the writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Jorge Luis Borges, the Tamil Sangam poets and the Vedas (sacred texts) to build the three movements of "Nocturne." The first, "Luna/Chandra," depicts the emergence of wildlife after sundown. "Rapture/Pramodya" shifts into the deepest hours of night and "Invocation/Yaman" nods to the early morning hours, believed to be the best time to connect with the divine.

It's easy to imagine the sections as a journey from twilight to dawn. Ashwini's choreography is grounded — she has a strong presence and the other dancers reflect her emphasis on graceful yet decisive strength in their own movement. So as "Nocturne" gives us a glimpse into a secretive world, the work also confirms that confident inhabitants rule it.

"Magic realism" is a technique often used in literature but through "Nocturne" Ashwini imports the concept into the dance world. On stage we see unfold the rational thought behind her carefully considered movement, yet the overall effect is one of utter enchantment. For one hour we are transported into an exquisite dream state, one that exists deep in the heart of night.