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 the Tamil Bhakti poet Andal, Song of the Jasmine embodies the spiritual and the sensual that are the lifeblood of the Indian psyche. Song of the Jasmine will be performed Thursday–Saturday, May 15–17, 8 pm, in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater.
Ragamala Dance’s codirectors Aparna Ramaswamy and Ranee Ramaswamy collaborate with jazz saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa for an absorbing investigation of identity 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. Run time 75 minutes.
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. 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, Calif., Getty Center in Los Angeles, Calif., Krannert Center in Urbana, Ill, Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, Bali Arts Festival in Indonesia, and National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, India.
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, $25 ($22 Walker members); Friday–Saturday, $30 ($26) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612-375-7600.