Experience the dance, music, and culture of India with Ragamala Dance. Enrich multiple areas of your curriculum—dance, music, world cultures, diversity—with this nationally renowned ensemble! Under the direction of Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy, Ragamala Dance Company’s work explores the dynamic tension between the ancestral and the contemporary. For the past 30 years, the two have worked together in an intergenerational creative partnership. They have created their own specific sub-genre that combines a modern Western aesthetic with an Indian ethos.
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The company has toured extensively, highlighted by the American Dance Festival, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, and National Centre for Performing Arts (Mumbai, India), just to name a few.
Ranee is the 2014 recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. She has also earned 14 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Choreography and Interdisciplinary Art and a Bush Fellowship for Choreography. Ranee currently serves on the National Council on the Arts, appointed by President Obama.
During my residency, Introduction to India, the Country and People, children will write their names in Tamil, an Indian language, sing the alphabet in Hindi (another Indian language), say the word “water” in five of the fifteen languages spoken in India. They will be introduced to South Indian dance, origin, movement and rhythm. Students learn to use feet, hands and body positions: they will learn a rhythmic dance, and a folk dance. In the Kolam portion of the residency children will learn floor drawings of South India and its background. They will try making the designs with rice flour on the floor and be introduced to festivals of India. In addition, they will try on clothing from India and sing a song about Rakhee, or Brothers’ Day.
Ragamala Dance residency outline from Artistic Director, Ranee Ramaswamy
From Temple to Theater
From Temple to Theater traces the evolution of the dance form of Bharatanatyam from the ancient temples of South India to the theaters of today. Brightly costumed dancers present excerpts from the company’s repertoire, and guide students through the performance with age-appropriate explanations of the history, traditions and cultural roots of the dance form and its relevance to the modern world.
Without getting up from their seats, students have the opportunity to try out some of the intricate hand gestures of Bharatanatyam, and learn how to tell silent stories with their hands. The program ends with a short Q&A. Tailored to the age, experience, and interests of the participants, this beautiful, educational, and fun-filled session provides a firsthand experience of Indian arts and culture while inspiring students to respect diversity.
Bharatanatyam: Classical Dance of South India
This informative and interactive session introduces students to the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam, touching on the traditional salutation, basic postures, rhythmic and gestural technique, and four aspects of expressive dance. Following this, students learn a folk dance called Gummi, traditionally done at the harvest festival—a simple and fun way to experience South Indian culture.
Note: Workshops can be led by one or two artists.
Kolam: Rice Flour Drawings from South India
Kolams are traditional South Indian decorations hand-drawn every morning before dawn on in front of homes. Made with dry rice flour, this daily ritual creates a sacred space and is a conscious act of giving back to the Earth something of what we take from it every day. In this workshop, students learn to draw Kolam designs on paper, then create them with rice flour on the floor to experience the traditional method.