In this solo work, women are depicted as carriers of ritual. Navigating inner and outer worlds, they invoke a sense of reverence, of unfolding mystery, of imagination. A stellar Carnatic musical ensemble accompanies Aparna Ramaswamy as she explores the spontaneous interplay between music and movement and the dynamic contours created by the artists onstage.
Sacred Earth explores the interconnectedness between human emotions and the environment that shapes them. Performed with live music, the dancers create a sacred space to honor the divinity in the natural world and the sustenance we derive from it. Inspired by the philosophies behind the ephemeral arts of kolam and Warli painting and the Tamil Sangam literature of India, Sacred Earth is Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy’s singular vision of the beautiful, fragile relationship between nature and man.
The creation of Sacred Earth was made possible in part with funds from the National Dance Project and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Written in Water is a large-scale multi-disciplinary work in which dance, music, text, and painting provide a layered approach to artmaking and improvisatory live performance that aims to provoke emotional and visceral responses from the performers and audiences alike. It uses the 2nd century Indian board game Paramapadam (which was the original inspiration for the more familiar game Snakes and Ladders), as a fertile environment on which the work unfolds.
Drawing parallels between the psychological/moral complexity of the game, the rich Persian epic Conference of the Birds, and Sangam poetry of south India, Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy will bridge past and present to create a world formed by Indian and Sufi philosophy, spirituality, and thought, driven by the element of chance.
An original score interweaves South Indian Carnatic music composed by Prema Ramamurthy with composer Amir ElSaffar’s distinctive alchemy of Western music and Iraqi Maqam. Ranee and Aparna envision this collage of intricate narratives, music, and dance unfolding upon a large physical rendering of a Paramapadam game board that will be projected on the stage floor/back wall. Chennai-based visual artist Keshav Venkataraghavan will create the board.
Written in Water is commissioned by the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (Lead Commissioner) and Opening Nights Performing Arts at Florida State University, and is made possible, in part, by a 2016 Joyce Award from the Joyce Foundation, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New Music/USA (made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Baisley Powell Elebash Fund, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation), and the Carolyn Foundation.
The creation of Written in Water is supported in part by choreographic and production residencies at The Yard in Martha’s Vineyard, the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi, the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University, and the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis, MN.
In India, the jasmine flower traverses the world of man and the world of the gods. This inspired work freely moves between past and present, composition and improvisation, music and dance, delving into the concept of longing through the lens of recollection, appeal, and total surrender. Guided by the rich poems of Tamil Bhakti poet Andal, Song of the Jasmine embodies the spiritual and the sensual that are the lifeblood of the Indian psyche.
Ragamala Dance Company’s directors Aparna Ramaswamy and Ranee Ramaswamy collaborate with jazz saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa on an exploration that conjures the past in order to experience the power of the present. Heralded for his “roving intellect and a bladelike articulation” (The New York Times), Mahanthappa heads a new ensemble that features Rez Abbasi (guitar), Raman Kalyan (south Indian flute), Rajna Swaminathan (mridangam/south Indian percussion), and Anjna Swaminathan (violin) for a live soundscape of jazz and Carnatic music for Ragamala’s five dancers.