Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy

2012 Solo Choreographers

Commissioned by Amanda Dlouhy

RANEE and APARNA RAMASWAMY are Artistic Directors, Choreographers, and Principal Dancers of Ragamala Dance, acclaimed as one of the Indian Diaspora’s leading dance ensembles. They are disciples of legendary Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer Alarmél Valli. Inspired by the philosophy, spirituality, mysticism, and myth of their South Indian heritage, Ranee and Aparna’s work retains roots in this collective history while carrying the classical dance form of Bharatanatyam into the 21st century. They see the classical form as a dynamic, living tradition with vast potential to convey timeless themes and contemporary ideas.

Ranee and Aparna’s work has been supported by the NEA, National Dance Project, Japan Foundation, USArtists International, and a Joyce Award; commissioned by the Walker Art Center and American Composers Forum; and toured extensively, highlighted by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., American Dance Festival in Durham, NC, Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, and National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, India. In 2011, they were jointly named “Artist of the Year” by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

RANEE has been a master teacher/performer of Bharatanatyam in the U.S. since 1978. Since her first cross-cultural collaboration with poet Robert Bly in 1991, followed by her founding of Ragamala in 1992, she has been a pioneer in the establishment of non-Western dance traditions in the Twin Cities and in pushing the boundaries of Indian classical dance on the global scene. Among her many awards are 14 McKnight Fellowships, a Bush Fellowship, an Artist Exploration Fund grant from Arts International, the 2011 McKnight Foundation Distinguished Artist Award.

APARNA has received three McKnight Fellowships in Dance and Choreography, a Bush Fellowship, an Arts and Religion grant funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, two Jerome Travel Study Grants, and an Artist Exploration Fund grant from Arts International. Her choreography and performance have been described as “a marvel of buoyant agility and sculptural clarity” (Dance Magazine), “thrillingly three-dimensional,” and “an enchantingly beautiful dancer,” (The New York Times). In 2010, Aparna was the first Bharatanatyam dancer/choreographer to be named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch”.