The Hindu Review

Tribute to Mother Earth
George Pioustin, The Hindu
January 22, 2015
Original article


With the ever increasing number of aficionados crossing cultural and geographical boundaries, Bharatanatyam has gained international recognition.

Exploring this contemporary possibility are performers and choreographers such as Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy, who are protégés and senior disciples of Alarmel Valli. As Indian dancers based in the U.S., their works reflect the rich heritage and deep philosophical roots of India amalgamated with the inquisitiveness and creative liberty of the United States.

Their initiative, Ragamala Dance Company, presented ‘Sacred Earth’ for Trinity Arts Festival of India at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha. ‘Sacred Earth’ delved into the interconnectedness of man and Nature.

The repertoire started with Lakshmi Stuthi from Sri Suktam, a choreographic piece by Alarmel Valli. Inspired by the philosophy and art of Kolam, the artists blended dance and drawing kolam designs on stage.

The Sangam poets’ works which use Nature as a metaphor to identify emotions, were taken to craft the repertoire. Tevakulattur’s verses from Kurunthokai 3 describing paalai tinai were followed by Paranar’s mullai tinai from Kurunthokai 36, Venputhi’s neythal tinai from Kurunthokai 97, Milai Kanthan’s marutham tinai from Kurunthokai 196 and Sempulappeyanirar’s kurinji tinai from Kurunthokai 40 respectively. ‘Sacred Earth’ concluded with Prithvi Suktam from Atharva Veda.

The choreography was visually opulent and filled with zest. Perfectly synchronised movements, pointing out the conspicuous rigorous rehearsals deserved compliments.

Though the crisp geometric formations throughout the nritta segments were impressive, there was less space for abhinaya.

The voice-overs throughout the performance lacked clarity and created ambiguity amidst the background music.

The beauty of the Pandanallur bani was well delineated by the dancers clad in earthen shades of yellow, brown and green, aptly designed for the theme. Ragamala Dance Company comprises lead dancers and choreographers Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy along with Aswini Ramaswamy, Tamara Nadel and Jessica Fiala. The orchestra had Ramya Kapadia on the vocal, Suchitra Sairam on the nattuvangam, Rajna Swaminathan on the mridangam and Anjana Swaminathan on the violin who gave melodic enrichment.