RANEE RAMASWAMY founded Ragamala Dance Company in 1992 and currently serves as Co-Artistic Director, Choreographer, and Principal Dancer along with her creative partner (and daughter) Aparna Ramaswamy. As dancemakers and performers, their creative vision merges the rich traditions and deep philosophical roots of their Indian heritage with their hybridic perspective as first generation Indian-Americans.
Ranee’s work has merged the classical language of Bharatanatyam with a contemporary Western aesthetic to create timeless pieces that freely move between the past and the present. Her training in Bharatanatyam under iconic dancer/choreographer Alarmél Valli in Chennai, India, is the bedrock of her creative aesthetic.
Ranee currently serves on the National Council on the Arts, appointed by President Barack Obama.
Ranee is a recipient of a 2014 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a 2012 United States Artists Fellowship, a 2011 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, a Bush Fellowship for Choreography, and 14 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Choreography and Interdisciplinary Art. Her choreographic work is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, MAP Fund, New Music/USA, Doris Duke Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and USArtists International.
Most recently, she and Aparna were selected as Research Fellows by the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center (Italy).
Described by The New York Times as “soulful, imaginative and rhythmically contagious,” Ranee’s work has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Lincoln Center (New York), Krannert Center (University of Illinois), Clarice Smith Center (University of Maryland), Opening Nights Performing Arts (Florida State University) NYU Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), and the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, and has been presented by Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), Joyce Theater (New York), American Dance Festival, International Festival of Arts & Ideas, University Musical Society (University of Michigan), Cal Performances (Berkeley), Just Festival (Edinburgh, U.K.), National Centre for Performing Arts (Mumbai, India), and Sri Krishna Gana Sabha (Chennai, India), among others.
In addition to their creative work, Ranee and Aparna are committed to inspiring a new generation to think and act innovatively, sparking conversations that articulate new possibilities for cultural hybridity in the 21st century. They have served as guest lecturers at colleges and universities throughout the U.S., and have been featured speakers and panelists for such forums as the Dance/USA National Conference, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, and the Body Voices: Reimagining Culture, Community, and Politics conference hosted by NYU Abu Dhabi. Through the Ragamala School in Minneapolis, Ranee and Aparna have educated hundreds of students in the classical dance form of Bharatanatyam.