Ragamala Dance | New Art, Ancient Vocabulary

Posted in Performances '12, 2012.

    Ragamala Dance presents their breathtaking Sacred Earth in their ADF Debut this week at Reynolds Theater. A combination of classical South Indian dance form Bharatanatyam, live music and poetry, the Minneapolis-based company creates a vivid sensory experience inspired by Warli wall paintings and kolam floor drawings.   While deeply rooted in the classical dance vocabulary of Bharatanatyam, Ragamala Dance has a decidedly contemporary feel. “The dance is a two-thousand-year-old art form; the paintings have been done for generations; the poetry is two thousand years old; yet, we use modern technology of projection, scrim and videos,” states company Founder and Artistic Director Ranee Ramaswamy. “In this way, we bring old forms into new ways of representation.” Adds Artistic Director Aparna Ramaswamy, “Everything you see onstage—the music, the art, the dance—was created and commissioned by us for this production. So everything is old, yet new when you put it in this context.”   This is an important distinction when considering contemporized representations of classical dance, from India and beyond. Not simply “traditional” or “historical,” these choreographies draw from a rich cultural tapestry to reflect contemporary ideas. As Aparna explains, “Although we have codified movements, those are the building blocks of what we create with. These classical and ancient art forms still speak to us today, and can be used in this modern context to convey a contemporary, relevant concept. Just as Sacred Earth depicts that we are all connected to every living, breathing being, so are these visual forms; the art, the music, the dance come from a classical vocabulary, but we breathe life into these art forms.”   Ragamala Dance presents Sacred Earth through Thursday, July 12th at Reynolds Industries Theater at Duke University. Please click here for more information and to purchase tickets.