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Song of Jasmine
September 12, 2015 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Created by Aparna Ramaswamy, Ranee Ramaswamy, and Rudresh Mahanthappa
Movingly meditative . . . enchantingly beautiful. —The New York Times
Intense, richly complicated . . . exhilarating. —Los Angeles Times
Western jazz fuses with South Indian music and dance to form this thoroughly original, entrancing new work. In Song of the Jasmine, premier jazz saxophonist and composer Rudresh Mahanthappa joins up with acclaimed dance and music ensemble Ragamala to invoke both the sensual and the spiritual, the temporal and the transcendent. This new piece weaves between past and present and composition and improvisation as it traces the progress of the symbolic jasmine flower between the world of mortals and the divine.
Ragamala coartistic directors, and mother-daughter team, Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy reframe the classical Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam for the contemporary stage in this experiment with improvisation performed to the live music of Mahanthappa, whose sound merges South Indian and Western forms. Song of the Jasmine is also a wellspring for the choreographers Aparna and Ranee Ramaswamy to revisit the medieval South Indian poet, Andal, who reconceived spirituality apart from established ritual to claim instead a personal relationship to the divine. Together the artists uphold their ancestors’ traditions and interpret them with their own distinct voices.
Song of the Jasmine marks first-time collaborations for both: Mahanthappa with dance, and Ragamala with improvisatory jazz. Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy perform illustriously with three dancers from their company, alongside Mahanthappa who plays with a quintet assembled of versatile jazz and South Indian musicians: Rez Abbasi (electric guitar), Raman Kalyan (South Indian flute), Rajna Swaminathan (mridangam/South Indian percussion), and Anjna Swaminathan (South Indian violin). The staging is completed by a stunning canopy of brass bells and costumes created in Chennai, India.