Ragamala Dance has again impressed critics on the East Coast with its both precise and inspired Bharatanatyam, the classical South Indian dance style.
This past Thursday the Minneapolis dance company performed for the first time at Lincoln Center Out of Doors. New York Times critic
The meeting of jazz and South Indian Carnatic traditions was startlingly seamless and marvelously danceable in the hands of the Ramaswamys, who choreographed “Song of the Jasmine” for themselves and three other dancers, Ashwini Ramaswamy (Aparna’s sister), Tamara Nadel and Jessica Fiala.
A program note elaborated on their inspiration: the eighth-century musings of the Tamil poet Andal, known for her expressions of “deep longing” and “the desire to merge the soul with the Supreme Consciousness.” Vague though that may be, it captures the emotional landscape of “Jasmine,” where every gesture radiates joy or generosity or a sense of striving toward some higher form of being.
Those gestures ranged from bold, daggerlike strokes of the arms, shooting out from the chest, to a fragile, quivering lexicon of the hands that suggested stitching, caressing, planting, gathering and other tender actions. At one point, resolving from appealingly asymmetrical arrangements into a more cohesive group, the five women performed a kind of sewing motion to all four corners of the stage, as if mending the space in front of them.
Though the sightlines at the Damrosch Park Bandshell often masked their pattering feet and bell-clad ankles — a persistent shortcoming of that stage — the specificity of their painted hands, particularly Aparna Ramaswamy’s, was breathtaking.
You can read the entire review here.
Ragamala Dance wowed crowds in Washington, D.C., at the John F. Kennedy Center in 2011 with its performances of “Gangashtakam“ and “Yathra” at the Maximum India Festival.