Ragamala Music and Dance Theater: Sva

"Fusion" is the buzz word in the arts these days, and dance is no exception. Choreographers infiltrate one another's forms, mixing ballet and hip hop, modern dance and gymnastics, Flamenco and Indian dance. While such dynamic melding can be exhilarating, it can also be as skin-deep as Botox. But not when Ragamala Music and Dance Theater mix the classical Indian dance form Bharatanatyam with Japanese Taiko drumming. Once again, Ragamala's adventurous artistic directors Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy show how culturally different forms can create a new and vibrant dialect. "Sva (Vital Force)" brings together the superbly articulate Aparna Ramaswamy and the Wadaiko Ensemble Tokara drummers. It's fascinating to watch Ramaswamy, an amazing dancer, demonstrate a sensual interplay of rhythmic precision, sculptural form, and spontaneity. By contrast, the Taiko drummers work in big, bold gestures, striking barrel-like drums. It's a bit like watching the turbulent power of a thunderstorm offset by a sinuous tapestry of interlocking patterns and textures. Both forms have a tradition of powerfully articulated and complex rhythms, and both are spiritual disciplines expressed through a vibrant physicality. Aparna will also dance "Ardhanareeshwara Stotram," the origin of creation, in which she reconciles the Divine Feminine with the Divine Masculine. A third work, "Yathra," fuses cello and sitar music with lighting by local master Jeff Bartlett and live drawing by New York-based artist Terry Rosenberg. Special Ragamala Gala and Benefit is $75-$80 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 3, at the Weisman Art Museum (333 East River Rd. Minneapolis; for more info call the Southern Theater).
May 1-3, 8 p.m.; Sun., May 4, 2 & 7 p.m., 2008

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