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Ragamala Dance; 02/28–03/01/2019

Ragamala Dance Company: Sacred Earth
Thursday, February 28, 2019 – 7:30 PM
Friday, March 1, 2019 – 7:30 PM
Mahaney Arts Center, Dance Theatre

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. Ragamala's dancers perform with live music to create a sacred space honoring the divinity in the natural world and the sustenance we derive from it. Funded in part by the Expeditions program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the six New England state arts agencies. Tickets: $22/16/10/6

SOLD OUT! Both Ragamala Dance performances are now sold out, but the Box Office will take an in-person, paid waiting list—starting at 6:30 PM Thursday and Friday night at the box office window—for any returned tickets.

Photo Ed Bock

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Ragamala Dance Company performs their signature work, Sacred Earth, with live music.


Concept and Choreography: Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy

Original Artwork: Anil Chaitya Vangad (Warli) Ranee Ramaswamy (kolam)

Original Compositions: Prema Ramamurthy

Development of Score: Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy with Lalit Subramanian, Anjna Swaminathan, Rajna Swaminathan

Dancers: Aparna Ramaswamy, Ranee Ramaswamy, Ashwini Ramaswamy, others TBA

Orchestra: TBA

Light Design: Jeff Bartlett

Technical Director: David Riisager

Video Projection Design: Perimeter Productions (Robert C. Hammel, Michele Blanchard, Caitlin Hammel)

Sacred Earth explores the interconnectedness between human emotions and the environment that shapes them. Inspired by the philosophies behind the ephemeral arts of kolam and Warli painting and the Tamil Sangam literature of India, Sacred Earth brings both internal and external landscapes to life. Each morning, women in southeastern India perform the silent ritual of kolam, making rice our designs on the ground as conscious offerings to Mother Earth. This daily ritual creates a sacred space and becomes a link between the intimate home and the vastness of the outside world. The indigenous Warli people of western India revere the land and live in perfect coexistence with nature. Using their everyday lives as inspiration, their dynamic wall paintings nd the spiritual in the everyday. For the Tamil Sangam poets of South India, the Earth was sacred. Recognizing that human activities are interwoven with all of creation, they drew parallels between inner and outer landscape and used the natural world as a metaphor to examine the intricacies of human emotion. As Sacred Earth builds from silent, meditative beginnings, the performers create a sacred space to honor the divinity in the natural world and the sustenance we derive from it. We surrender to the beauty of this sacred earth that has been given to us to safeguard, cherish and pass on to our future generations.


Ragamala Dance Company

Founded in 1992 and acclaimed as one of the Indian Diaspora’s leading dance ensembles, Ragamala Dance Company seamlessly carries the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam into the 21st century. Informed by the echoing past and the fleeting present, Artistic Directors Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy’s evocative choreography defies chronology.

Ranee and Aparna — mother and daughter — are protégés of the legendary dancer and choreographer Alarmel Valli, known as one of India’s greatest living masters. They embrace the philosophy, spirituality, myth and mysticism of their heritage to create not works but worlds – visceral, universal experiences that use Indian art forms to express their contemporary point of view. They see the classical form as a dynamic, living tradition with vast potential to convey timeless themes and present-day ideas.

Ragamala Dance Company has toured extensively, highlighted by performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., American Dance Festival in Durham, NC, Music Center in Los Angeles, CA, Getty Center in Los Angeles, CA, Krannert Center in Urbana, IL, Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, Bali Arts Festival in Indonesia, and National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, India.

Aparna Ramaswamy (Artistic Director/Choreographer/ Principal Dancer), was born in India and raised in the United States. She is a protégé of legendary Bharatanatyam artist Alarmél Valli, one of India’s greatest living masters. Described as “a marvel of buoyant agility and sculptural clarity” (Dance Magazine), “thrillingly three-dimensional,” and “an enchantingly beautiful dancer,” (The New York Times), Aparna and has been featured at prestigious venues throughout the United States and abroad, both as a soloist and as principal dancer with Ragamala. She has been awarded several honors, including two McKnight Artist Fellowships, a Bush Fellowship, an Arts and Religion grant funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, two Jerome Foundation Travel Study Grants, an Artist Exploration Fund grant from Arts International, the Lakshmi Vishwanathan Endowment Prize from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha (Chennai, India), and the Sage Award for Best Dancer (Minneapolis). Aparna’s work is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Dance Project, and the Japan Foundation, and has been commissioned by the American Composer’s Forum, the Walker Art Center and the Southern Theater. In 2010, she was the first Bharatanatyam artist to be selected as one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine. Aparna and co-Artistic Director Ranee Ramaswamy were recently named the 2011 “Artist of the Year” by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Ranee Ramaswamy (Founder, Artistic Director/ Choreographer/ Principal Dancer), has been a master teacher and performer of Bharatanatyam in the U.S. since 1978. Since her first cross-cultural collaboration with poet Robert Bly in 1991, followed by her founding of Ragamala in 1992, she has been a pioneer in the establishment of non-Western dance traditions in Minneapolis and in pushing the boundaries of Indian classical dance on the global scene.Among her many awards are 14 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Choreography and Interdisciplinary Art, a Bush Fellowship for Choreography, an Artist Exploration Fund grant from Arts International, two Cultural Exchange Fund grants from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and the 2011 McKnight Foundation Distinguished Artist Award. Most recently, Ranee was the recipient of a 2012 United States Artists Fellowship, and was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Council on the Arts.

Mahaney Arts Center
Middlebury College
South Main St./Route 30 South
72 Porter Field Rd.
Middlebury, VT 05753
(802) 443-3168 phone
(802) 443-2834 fax