PULLMAN – The Festival Dance and Performing Arts will present a performance by Ragamala Music and Dance Theatre in “From Temple to Theatre” at the Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum at 3pm on Sunday, March 4th.

This innovative and colorful program features a journey through time, tracing the path of the classical dance form of Bharatanatyam from the ancient temples of South India to the theaters of today. The program includes new choreography in the classical Bharatanatyam style, as well as innovative works that bring this culturally-based dance form into conversation with diverse artistic traditions including Taiko drumming and modern dance.

Tickets on sale at Beasley, Festival Dance, UI Kibbie Dome and all TicketsWest outlets. WSU students free due to support by WSU VPLAC.

Rudyard Kipling’s famous lines, “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet” could never apply to the work of Ragamala Music and Dance Theatre. Under the direction of artistic director/choreographer, Ranee Ramaswamy, this unique dance company takes the basic building blocks of Indian dance and combines them with Japanese drumming, Chinese poetry, Western ballet, and modern dance to create new art works designed to delight the senses and elevate the human spirit. Ragamala’s goal is to provide a bridge between cultures both ancient and modern, eastern and western in order to create a unique style of living poetry for the stage. 

In India, dance has been used both as a vehicle of worship and as an expression of profound emotions, a human being’s most subtle states of mind. The origins of Indian dance are shrouded in the mist of antiquity. The bronze figurine of a dancing girl discovered in the 4,000-year-old ruin of Mohenjodaro is the world’s earliest evidence of dance. The Indian dance system is the oldest and most comprehensive in the world, having an unbroken tradition going back 2,000 years. Born in the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu, South India, years ago, Bharatanatyam is devotional in spirit yet possesses a highly stylized and sophisticated technique. Rooted in Bharatanatyam, this ancient classical dance of southern India, Ragamala blends dance, music, and poetry. Old forms are used in new ways to honor the past, celebrate the present, and inspire the future.

Ragamala’s work has been presented in prestigious venues nationally and internationally, including the Open Look Contemporary Dance Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Miao-Li International Mask Festival in Taiwan. In July of 2006, by special invitation from the Bali Government Culture Office, Ragamala was invited to perform as part of the Bali Arts Festival in Bali, Indonesia. Ragamala has been the recipient of several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as grants from Arts International, the National Dance Project, and the Japan Foundation.

In addition to the company dancers, the program will feature Taiko drummer, Hiroshi Koshiyama, co-founder of Fubuki Daiko in Winnipeg, Canada. Koshiyama was formally trained in Taiko by Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka, founder of the San Francisco Taiko Dojo and the father of North American Taiko drumming. As a Taiko Dojo Member, he toured in the United States, appeared in Philip Kaufman’s feature film Rising Sun, performed on the film’s soundtrack, and performed with the Dojo at Carnegie Hall in 1994.

Ranee Ramaswamy, founder/artistic director/choreographer and principal dancer, was born in India has been teaching and performing Bharatanatyam in Minnepolis since 1978. Ramaswamy has received many grants and fellowships in recognition of her choreography, performance, and tireless work with Bharatanatyam in the Minnesota area, including numerous McKnight Artist Fellowships for Choreographers, two McKnight Artist Fellowships for Interdisciplinary Artists, a Bush Fellowship for Choreography, and  a two-year National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer Fellowship.

The performance by Ragamala is being assisted by grants from the Western States Arts Federation and the National Endowment for the Arts. WSU VPLAC is also assisting the presentation which is funding free tickets for WSU students. Ragamala will also present a school program for area 6th graders made possible by funds from the Moscow MardiGras Committee.

The audience is invited to stay after the performance to ask questions and enjoy a brief discussion by the director and dancers.

For more information, see www.festivaldance.org.  Group rates for tickets are available by calling Festival Dance at (208) 883-3267.