The Bryn Mawr College Performing Arts Series will present Ashwini Ramaswamy’s “Let the Crows Come” in a one-night only performance on Saturday, Oct. 2, at 8 p.m. in McPherson Auditorium, Goodhart Hall. Evoking mythography and ancestry, Let the Crows Come uses the metaphor of crows as messengers for the living and guides for the departed.
Let the Crows Come evolved from a simple idea: when a DJ remixes a song, its essence is maintained while its trajectory is changed. To Minneapolis-based dancer/choreographer Ashwini Ramaswamy – a founding company member of the internationally renowned Ragamala Dance Company – this mutation is reminiscent of being a second-generation immigrant – a person who has been culturally remixed to fit into multiple places at once.
“As an artist of diaspora, I am a cultural carrier with an instinct to move within ancestral patterns,” explains Ramaswamy. “There is a continuum between what we perceive as real/tangible and what we accept as unknown/unknowable; this gravitation between the human, the natural, and the metaphysical—which are forever engaged in sacred movement—is a focal point in my work.”
In a series of three dance solos, Ramaswamy (Bharatanatyam technique) and fellow Minneapolis-based dancers Alanna Morris-Van Tassel (contemporary/African Diasporic technique) and Berit Ahlgren (Gaga technique) deconstruct and recontextualize the South Indian classical dance form Bharatanatyam, recalling a memory that has a shared origin but is remembered differently from person to person. The dancers’ use of imagery and narrative is accompanied by the soaring voice of Carnatic singer Roopa Mahadevan and two other classical Indian musicians — percussionist Rohan Krishnamurthy and violinist Arun Ramamurthy — performing an original score by Prema Ramamurthy. Concurrently, cellist Brent Arnold extrapolates from the classical Carnatic (South Indian) score, utilizing centuries-old compositional structures as the point of departure for sonic explorations — co-created with composer/DJ Jace Clayton (DJ/rupture)]— that incorporate pop music and electronic sounds.
Ashwini Ramaswamy “weaves together, both fearfully and joyfully, the human and the divine. There is a continual flow of energy coursing through her limbs.” –The New York Times
As an independent choreographer and choreographic associate with Ragamala Dance Company, Ramaswamy’s work references ancient myths and ritualistic practices, global literature and poetry, and the mixed media contemporary culture she has absorbed for 35 years, drawing from myriad influences to express a personal identity that has universal resonance.
Ramaswamy has studied Bharatanatyam with Ragamala Dance Company’s Artistic Directors Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy—her mother and sister— since the age of five. She now has the honor of studying under Bharatanatyam legend Alarm Valli, one of the greatest living masters of the form. She has toured extensively with Ragamala, performing throughout the U.S. and in Russia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, the U.K, and India.
Ramaswamy’s work has been commissioned by the SPCO’s Liquid Music Series, The American Dance Platform, and the Great Northern Festival, created through residencies at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (NYC), University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and the National Center for Choreography (Akron, Ohio) and with support from the National Dance Project, the MAP Fund, U.S. Artists International, the Minnesota State Arts Board, Minnesota Regional Arts Council, The South Asian Arts Resiliency Fund, an inaugural Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship and McKnight Foundation Artist Fellowships for Dance and Choreography. Her choreography has been listed among the “Best of the Year” in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnpost, City Pages, and Big Dance Town. As a 2019 City Pages Artist of the Year, Ramaswamy’s work was highlighted for “illuminating Bharatanatyam’s future.”
Let the Crows Come was commissioned by The SPCO’s Liquid Music Series and was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, the MAP Fund (supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), and was developed in part during a residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York, NY. Commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Let the Crows Come debuted in November 2019 at The Lab Theater in Minneapolis.
Ashwini Ramaswamy’s “Let the Crows Come”
Saturday, Oct 2, 8 p.m.
McPherson Auditorium, Goodhart Hall, 150 N. Merion Avenue in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
As part of the College’s COVID-19 mitigation procedures, all audience members will be required to wear masks and vaccines are recommended for off-campus guests. View the Arts at Bryn Mawr Live Event Audience Safety Procedures at https://www.brynmawr.edu/arts/health-and-safety for details.
Tickets are $20, $18 for seniors, $10 for students and members of philadelphiadance.org, and $5 for children under 12. Tickets and more information are available online at https://brynmawrarts.ticketleap.com/Ramaswamy/ or by calling 610-526-5300.
photo credit: Jake Armour
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