Through an ancient southern Indian dance form, Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy of Ragamala Dance interpret worship of sacred waters. Here, they perform a piece called Yamuna and Thillana from their recent work, Ihara: Sacred Waters at the Southern Theater.

Aparna writes: The rivers of India are revered as personifications of divinity. Since time immemorial, river worship has been performed in India to respect the vitality of water as a life-sustaining force. The perennial flow of the river, from its origin to the sea, symbolizes the journey of the soul to merge with the universal. Based on the poetic sanctity of these rituals, Irhah: Sacred Waters is an evening-length work that praises the rivers Ganga, Kaveri and Yamuna and their spiritual significance.

Choreographed and performed by Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy
The Yamuna boasts many a tale of the Hindu god Krishna, born and raised as a cowherd on its banks.
The intoxicating flute his scepter*,
the shade of the trees his umbrella of justice,
the beautiful feather of the peacock his crown,
a boulder in the woods his throne,
flowers from the mango tree a pillow for his feet,
Goddess Lakshmi on his right as his queen, lovelorn maidens as his courtiers,
the bells of the cows calling out the existence of dharma, Krishna sits on the banks of the Yamuna, darkened by clouds.
The perpetual call of the calves declares Krisha’s presence.
Beautiful baby calf, I offer salutations to you.

* translation of the sung poem

Choreography by Alarmel Valli, staging by Aparna Ramaswamy
Dancers: Bria Borcherding, Amanda Dlouhy, Jessica Fiala, Tamara Nadel,
Aparna Ramaswamy, Ashwini Ramaswamy, Ranee Ramaswamy
In this piece, dancers and musicians come together to express an intuitive understanding of the beauty of verse translated by body and voice.

Artist Bio:
Combining the technical complexity Bharatanatyam with the underlying spirituality of the stories they perform, Ragamala has made a name for them in Minnesota and beyond. Their yearly performances at the Southern Theater almost always sell out. That’s because each are so distinct, so exquisite, and so accessible to all audiences. Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy are the mother daughter collaborators behind the company. Aparana came to the U.S. in 1978 and has taught dance ever since. Both are committed to the authenticity of Bharatanatyam, but have also collaborated with other musicians and dancers-blues and jazz, to name a couple- to take the dance to a new level.

Artist’s web site: