Ranee Ramaswamy


Doris Duke Artist Award, 2014
Dance

Minneapolis, MN

Ranee Ramaswamy founded Ragamala Dance Company in 1992, and currently serves as co-artistic director with her daughter, Aparna Ramaswamy. As a choreographer and performer of the South Indian classical form of Bharatanatyam, she has worked tirelessly for the last three decades to find a place for the form in the landscape of contemporary American dance. Since her first cross-cultural collaboration with poet Robert Bly, her work has merged the classical language of Bharatanatyam with a contemporary Western aesthetic to create timeless pieces that freely move between the past and the present. Her many awards and honors include a 2012 USA Fellowship, a 2011 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, and multiple grants from the NEA, NEFA National Dance Project, MAP Fund, and USArtists International. She currently serves on the National Council on the Arts, appointed by President Barack Obama. Her work has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center, Lincoln Center, Krannert Center, and the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi, among others.

  • Photo Credit: J. Chapman
    Ranee Ramaswamy
  • Photo Credit: Grant Halverson
    Ranee Ramaswamy
  • Photo Credit: Ed Bock
    Ranee Ramaswamy
  • Ranee Ramaswamy- Song of the Jasmine (2014): /109854429
    Song of the Jasmine (2014)
  • Ranee Ramaswamy- Sacred Earth (2011): http://vimeo.com/87821279
    Sacred Earth (2011)
  • Photo Credit: Ed Bock
    Ranee Ramaswamy
  • Photo Credit: J. Chapman

What fuels your impulse to make creative work?

My greatest inspiration—what fuels my impulse to create work—is to make audiences feel something deeply and completely.

As dancemakers and Co-Directors, my daughter, Aparna, and I explore the dynamic tension between the ancestral and the contemporary, each bringing our generational voices to our work. The rich traditions, deep philosophical knowledge, and ancient wisdom of south India meet and merge with the curiosity, openness, and creative freedom that we experience as Americans.

India is an ancient culture with a dynamic, thriving existence: hundreds of millions of people practice, shape and interpret its traditions and practices. Spirituality and faith are integral to this existence. There is honest emotion that is born of devotion: a spiritual, divine feeling that connects us all. In a rare, beautiful moment, this sensation can be captured through art. To us, art is not entertainment; it is not political, nor about the self. Art is bigger than us—we are a vehicle through which to personalize, internalize, and provide a visceral experience.