Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Culture of India Through Dance and Music at the Edge in Bigfork

Internationally-acclaimed Ragamala Dance will present the culture of India through music interpreted by traditional dance on Sunday October 19th at 2 p.m., at the Edge Center in Bigfork. This Minneapolis-based professional company has recently performed in venues including the American Dance Festival, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, India. The program, titled Scared Earth, brings an artistic look at a country on the other side of the earth with incredible color, music and dancing celebrating the life and history of a very different environment from Northern Minnesota. Date: Sunday, October 19; time 2PM; price $10 adults, $5 children.

Ragamala Dance was founded by Ranee Ramaswamy in 1992.  Currently, Ranee and her daughter Aparna serve as choreographers and co-artistic directors of the company. From the co-directors, “We draw from the myth and spirituality of our South Indian heritage to make dance landscapes that dwell in opposition—secular and spiritual life, inner and outer worlds, human and natural concerns, rhythm and stillness—to find the transcendence that lies in between. Together we craft every moment to create intricate and complex worlds that convey a sense of reverence, of unfolding mystery, of universal celebration”.  Above Photo Credit Jonathan Chapman.

In “Sacred Earth” Ranee and Aparna present the myth and philosophy of Indian tradition to shape incredible landscapes of color and dance with music showing the relationship of people and the environment around them. The program, accompanied by music, brings internal (akam) and external (puram) vistas to life through the creative use of kolam floor designs and Warli wall paintings. Kolams are rice flour designs made each morning by women in southern India as offerings to Mother Earth. Above photo credit Hub WIlson.

The Warli people from western India are known for their reverence of the land and live in perfect coexistence with nature. Warli paintings are inspired by everyday existence creating inspiration and beauty.  This dance discipline includes very colorful dress and sets along with the beauty and grace of Indian music and dance. Above photo credit Hub Wilson.

Starting from a very subdued meditative state and building towards the program’s crescendo, we (the audience) are meant to feel the environment’s relationship to us and our need to protect and serve it for future generations. Colorful, graceful, and musical are all good descriptions of the program, but being there is the best way to appreciate how special this mix can create the frame of mind intended by the directors. Above photo credit Sally Cohn.

“Ragamala Dance’s artistic directors Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy bring their culture’s unique sensibility of mysticism, myth and sanctity to the contemporary stage. The mother-daughter duo was named the 2011 ‘Artist of the Year’ by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, where they currently make their home. Above photo credit Ed Bock.

Ranee Ramaswamy has been a master teacher and performer of the Indian dance form Bharatanatyam since 1978. Since 1984, she has been a disciple of Alarmél Valli, one of India’s greatest living masters. Aparna Ramaswamy is also a protégé of Alarmél Valli. Described as ‘a marvel of buoyant agility and sculptural clarity’ (Dance Magazine), ‘thrillingly three-dimensional,’ and “an enchantingly beautiful dancer,” (The New York Times)”. From:  Above photo credit Grant Halverson.

“Ragamala Dance unfolds the beauty, elegance, poetry, and driving rhythmic complexities of Bharatanatyam, the 2,000 year-old classical dance of Southern India. With each new project…(they)… push the boundaries of Bharatanatyam and convey what it means to be 21st century choreographers working within a classical, culturally-based tradition. Their work brings to audiences the infinite scope of Bharatanatyam by showcasing its complexity and range, from the grace and power of the traditional solo form to the beauty and vitality of the company's ensemble.” Above photo credit Grant Halverson.

This activity is made possible by: the voters of Minnesota through a legislative appropriation through a grant for the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, and through generous funding by the Blandin Foundation. Above photo credit Ed Bock.

This program promises to be a special experience for the audience.  It certainly is a first for the Edge. Come and enjoy the songs, dance and color of this extraordinary group of performers. Date: Sunday, October 19; time 2PM; price $10 adults, $5 children. Above photo credit Hub Wilson, below Ed Bock.

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