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Dancers perform on ‘Sacred Earth’ at the MAC

MIDDLEBURY — Hailed by the New York Times as “providing some of the most transcendent experiences that dance has to offer,” Ragamala Dance Company brings the stunning work “Sacred Earth” to the Mahaney Arts Center’s Dance Theatre on Feb. 28 and March 1.
Inspired by the philosophies behind the ephemeral arts of Kolam and Warli painting and the Tamil Sangam literature of India, “Sacred Earth” is artistic directors 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.
“Ragamala Dance Company is the nation’s leading Bharatanatyam dance ensemble, and is exceptional in every way,” said Performing Arts Series Director Allison Coyne Carroll. “At this time when our community is stressed and sometimes divided, we offer this centering and transformative performance — one that reflects on connection rather than division, and contemplative beauty rather than discordant narrative.”
About 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, Ragamala’s evocative choreography defies chronology.
Co-artistic directors Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy — mother and daughter — are protégées 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.
Based in Minneapolis, Ragamala has toured extensively, highlighted by performances at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, American Dance Festival, Getty Center in Los Angeles, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Bali Arts Festival in Indonesia, and the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, India.
Founder and co-artistic director Ranee Ramaswamy has been a master teacher and performer of Bharatanatyam in the U.S. since 1978. 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, a Bush Fellowship, an Artist Exploration Fund grant from Arts International, and the 2011 McKnight Foundation Distinguished Artist Award. Ranee currently serves on the National Council on the Arts, appointed by President Barack Obama. Most recently, she and Aparna were awarded 2018 Guggenheim Fellowships and selected as Research Fellows by the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center (Italy).
Co-artistic director Aparna Ramaswamy was born in India and raised both in India and in the U.S. Described as “a marvel of buoyant agility and sculptural clarity” (Dance Magazine), she has been featured at prestigious venues throughout the United States and abroad, both as a soloist and as principal dancer with Ragamala. Aparna is a recipient of a 2016 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a 2016 Joyce Award, a Bush Fellowship for Choreography, and three McKnight Artist Fellowships, among others. In 2010, she was the first Bharatanatyam artist to be selected as one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine.
See the Ragamala Dance Company perform on Thursday, Feb. 28 and Friday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m., at the Mahaney Arts Center’s Dance Theatre in Middlebury. General admission tickets are $22 for adults; $16 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, emeriti, and alumni; $10 for youth; and $6 for Middlebury College students; and are on sale at 802-443-MIDD (6433) or middlebury.edu/arts/tickets.

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