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Press Releases Ragamala Dance and Rudresh Mahanthappa Perform Walker Art Center Commision/World Premiere Song of the Jasmine

“Aparna Ramaswamy infuses the formal rigor of Bharatanatyam with fluid spontaneity and rock star allure.” —Dance Magazine

Minneapolis, April 23, 2014— In India, the jasmine flower traverses the world of man and the world of the gods. This inspired new work by Ragamala Dance and Rudresh Mahanthappa, Song of the Jasmine, freely moves between past and present, composition and improvisation, music and dance, delving into the concept of longing through the lens of recollection, appeal, and total surrender. Guided by the rich poems of Tamil Bhakti poet Andal, Song of the Jasmine embodies the spiritual and the sensual that are the lifeblood of the Indian psyche. Described as “Rapturous and profound…” by The New York Times, Song of the Jasmine will be performed Thursday–Saturday, May 15–17, 8 pm, and Sunday, May 18, 2pm, in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater.

Ragamala Dance’s directors Aparna Ramaswamy and Ranee Ramaswamy collaborate with jazz saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa on an exploration that conjures the past in order to experience the power of the present. Heralded for his “roving intellect and a bladelike articulation” (New York Times), Mahanthappa heads a new ensemble that features Rez Abbasi (guitar), V. K. Raman (South Indian flute), Rajna Swaminathan (mridangam, south Indian drum), and Anjna Swaminathan (violin) for a live soundscape of jazz and Carnatic music for five Ragamala dancers.

About Ragamala Dance Artistic Directors Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy (mother and daughter) explore the dynamic tension between the ancestral and the contemporary. Drawing from the myth and spirituality of their South Indian heritage, they make dance landscapes that dwell in opposition—secular and spiritual life, inner and outer worlds, human and human and natural concerns, rhythm and stillness—to find the transcendence that lies in between. Their commitment to Bharatanatyam is the bedrock of a creative aesthetic that prioritizes truthful emotion above all else.

The company has been recognized by awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Dance Project, the MAP fund, and the McKnight Foundation among others. Most recently, Ranee Ramaswamy received a prestigious 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award. Ragamala has toured extensively, highlighted by performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., American Dance Festival in Durham, NC, Music Center in Los Angeles, CA, Getty Center in Los Angeles, CA, Krannert Center in Urbana, IL, Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, Bali Arts Festival in Indonesia, and National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, India.

About Rudresh Mahanthappa
Guggenheim fellow and 2012 Downbeat International Critics Poll Alto Saxophonist of the Year, Rudresh Mahanthappa is one of the most innovative composers and performers in jazz today, fusing the musical culture of his Indian ancestry and jazz with myriad other influences to create a groundbreaking artistic vision.

Mahanthappa leads/co-leads several groups including the electro-acoustic quartet Samdhi featuring guitarist David Gilmore and the Indo-Pak Coalition with Rez Abassi on guitar and tabla master Dan Weiss. Previous ensembles include the critically-acclaimed Kinsmen featuring Carnatic saxophone legend Kadri Golpalnath and Apex, which showcased the highly influential alto-sax master Bunky Green.

His second release on ACT Music & Vision, Gamak, features a fiery communion with the always stunning David “Fuze” Fiuczynski (guitar) and a return to Mahanthappa’s longtime quartet partners François Moutin (acoustic bass) and Dan Weiss (drums).

Tickets to Song of the Jasmine are: Thursday and Sunday, $25 ($22 Walker members); Friday–Saturday, $30 ($26) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600

Make a Night of It!
Balcony Bar

Meet the artists, talk about the show, and enjoy drinks on the upper balcony of the elegant William and Nadine McGuire Theater. Open one hour prior to and after most performances. For details, visit walkerart.org.


Lead commissioners for Song of the Jasmine are the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Walker Art Center with support provided by the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Co-commissioned by the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, and Lincoln Center for Lincoln Center Out of Doors. In honor of Dale Schatzlein (1948–2006) and his important work in dance and jazz in the Twin Cities, additional support is provided by Emily Maltz.

Walker Art Center’s Dance Season is sponsored by Pine River Capital Management LP.

Walker Art Center Performing Arts

The Walker Art Center’s performing arts programs are made possible by generous support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through the Doris Duke Performing Arts Fund, the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Producers’ Council
Performing Arts programs and commissions at the Walker are generously supported by members of the Producers’ Council: Russell Cowles; Sage Cowles; Nor Hall and Roger Hale; King’s Fountain/Barbara Watson Pillsbury and Henry Pillsbury; Emily Maltz; Dr. William W. and Nadine M. McGuire; Leni and David Moore, Jr.; Mike and Elizabeth Sweeney; and Frances and Frank Wilkinson.

Rudresh Mahanthappa

Photo: Mark Duggan

Art and photo by Ed Bock