Combining ancient dance form with familiar ideas about the earth and our stewardship of it, the world renowned Ragamala Dance Company will present ‘Sacred Earth’ on February 9 at 7:30 p.m. The performance, part of the Central Lakes Community Performing Arts Center’s Cultural Arts Series, will be held in the Chalberg Theatre on the Brainerd Campus of Central Lakes College.
“We’re very pleased to be able to present this company,” said Series Producer Patrick Spradlin. “They are a fabulously talented group, and their work is of such high artistic merit.”
Ragamala Dance Company was founded in Minneapolis in 1992 by Ranee Ramaswamy. Now under the direction of Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy (mother and daughter), the company is in its 25th season of creating intercultural, collaborative performance works that forge together ancestry and continuity. In this milestone year, long-time Ragamala soloist Ashwini Ramaswamy has joined her mother and sister in their intergenerational creative partnership.
The company has been recognized with awards from numerous grants organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Japan Foundation/New York, USArtists International, New Music/USA, MAP Fund, American Composers Forum, and two Joyce Awards from the Joyce Foundation.
Ragamala tours extensively, highlighted by the American Dance Festival, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Music Center of Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, University Musical Society at the University of Michigan, the Just Festival (Edinburgh, U.K.) the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi
(United Arab Emirates), Sri Krishna Gana Sabha (Chennai), and the National Centre for Performing
Arts (Mumbai), among others.
Ragamala explores the myth and spirituality of their Indian heritage in order to engage with what they see as the dynamic tension between the historical, the ancestral, and the personal. They approach the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam as a living, breathing language with which to speak about the contemporary human experience. Described as “soulful, imaginative and rhythmically contagious” (The New York Times) and “the standard bearer of a singularly successful kind of hybridity” (The Huffington Post), Ragamala’s work has been commissioned by such prestigious organizations as the Walker Art Center, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, and the Krannert Center for Performing Arts at the University of Illinois.
“’Sacred Earth’ aims to explore the interconnectedness between human emotions and the environments that shape them,” says Aparna Ramaswamy, the daughter of the duo. “The piece honors and celebrates the natural world and the interconnectedness of man and nature,” she said. “At a time when the environment is front and center — climate change, depletion of natural resources, pollution and a host of other issues are front-page news — this piece was not created as a pointed social statement. But rather, we created the piece to underscore the enduring relationship between man and nature in ancient cultures. The interdependence between the two has existed since time immemorial, and is reflected through daily ritual, artistic practice and social thought.”
Tickets for ‘Sacred Earth’ are available from the CLC Theatre Box Office at (218) 855-8199 or online at www.clcperformingarts.com
‘Sacred Earth’ is sponsored by Arrowwood Lodge at Brainerd Lakes. The entire CLC Performing Arts Center season is made possible in part by an operating grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.