What happens to my soul if I die in a foreign country? This performance and panel discussion with faith and community leaders will explore themes of mortality, ritual, and immigrant journeys.
Returning to the Earth integrates themes of life and death outside of one’s homeland. In excerpts from Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy’s Fires of Varanasi, The Ragamala Dance Company evokes a richly elaborate ritual where time is suspended and humans merge with the divine. Through images that reflect the cosmic trinity of Varanasi, India, the choreographers imagine a metaphorical crossing place where one may leave the mundane and enter into the world of immortality.
A post-performance panel discussion with faith and community leaders navigates the space between the living and afterlife to explore end-of-life rituals that honour those who have passed.
Aparna Ramaswamy is Co-Artistic Director of Ragamala Dance Company with her choreographic partner (and mother) Ranee Ramaswamy.
Described by The New York Times as “thrillingly three-dimensional… rapturous and profound,” Aparna is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Research Fellowship at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center (Italy), Residential Fellowship at the Bogliasco Foundation Center (Italy), Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, and Joyce Award, among others, and was selected as one of Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch for 2010. Aparna is an empaneled artist with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and her solo work, with live music, has toured the U.S. and India with support from the National Dance Project and USArtists International. In 2018, she premiered a new solo work commissioned by the American Dance Festival as part of Wondrous Women: Solos Created by the Artists for Themselves, featuring Aparna alongside Camille A. Brown, Michelle Dorrance, Rhapsody James, and Yabin Wang. In 2019, Aparna’s new work with composer/violinist Colin Jacobsen was commissioned by and for the Silk Road Ensemble.
Aparna’s forthcoming work, Fires of Varanasi, co-created with Ranee Ramaswamy, is commissioned by the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), the Harris Theater (Chicago), the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College, The Soraya at Cal State Northridge, Northrop at the University of Minnesota, the Gogue Performing Arts Center at Auburn University, Meany Center at the University of Washington, and American Dance Festival, and will premiere at The Soraya (Los Angeles) in October, 2020.
Tamara Nadel is a disciple of Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy and founding member of Ragamala. She has toured extensively with the company, performing on major national and international stages.
In addition to performing with the company, Tamara is Ragamala’s Director of Institutional Development and a teacher at the Ragamala Training Center in Minneapolis. Tamara holds a degree in Religious Studies and Dance from Macalester College, and has previously served on the City of Minneapolis Arts Commission and on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, Minnesota State Arts Board, and McKnight Foundation, among others. She currently serves on the board of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts.